NBN Magazine Winter 2018

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The true story of what happened between Stevens, Tillery and the CIA (maybe).

Ranking our favorite grilled cheese sandwiches... before and after getting hammered.

How an Evanston-based radio station reached the world.




PREGAME L I F E A D V I C E F R O M T R AC Y VAU G H N - M A N L E Y Catching up with the professor on quilting and Qatar.

A FA R E W E L L TO WO O Former Willard residents reflect on its sparkling new replacement and lost love.


con tents

In this quarter’s installment of Shit We Found in the Archives... NU’s very own circus!

D I S C OV E R I N G S T. LO U I S Tired of the Evanston weather? Visit Missouri, where it’s a whole five degrees warmer.

GAME ON Find your new favorite Sunday afternoon activity at Evanston Games & Café.

DANCE FLOOR E A R T H TO E VA N S TO N How a humble Evanston-based radio station reached the world.

WO R L D O N H I S S H O U L D E R S Professor John C. Hudson reflects on five decades teaching geography.

NITESKOOL LIVES AGAIN How one student brought an organization back to life.

A L L S TAT E , N O FA N S With the stadium 45 minutes away, men’s basketball fans have struggled to show up.

S E W I N G M Y S E LV E S On the challenges of embracing vulnerability.

PA I N T I N G S F O R P O S T E R I T Y Northwestern faculty members team up with the Art Institute of Chicago to investigate Georgia O’Keeffe.

THE STORY OF THE SILOS, AS TOLD THROUGH EXPLOSIONS A detailed history of Chicago’s Damen Silos.

W H AT T H E H E L L A R E T H E D I G I TA L H U M A N I T I E S ? Let’s figure this out once and for all.

FEATURES JAC K I E S T E V E N S V S . T H E WO R L D The true true story of what happened between Stevens, Tillery and maybe the CIA (maybe).

E VA N S TO N ’ S I D E N T I T Y C R I S I S The city approaches new heights – at the cost of its most vulnerable residents and businesses.

C H E MISTRY, BUT MA KE I T SM ALL. How an emerging field of science helped fuel the rise of the chemistry department.

D I AG N O S T I C D E F I C I T For one student, an ADHD diagnosis taught her about her brain – and the world.

PHOTO STORIES R O C K O U R WO R L D A step-by-step guide to painting The Rock.

TO O F E W C O O K S I N T H E K I TC H E N Visiting Northwestern’s Cookology club.

HANGOVER CHEESIE’S IN REVIEW Ranking our favorite grilled cheese sandwiches... before and after getting hammered.

B LO O D M O N E Y What should you spend your health study money on? Here’s the dirtiest deals.

F LOAT O N We sent one of our editors into a sensory deprivation tank to see if it’s worth the hype.

TO U R G U I D E M Y T H B U S T E R S Going undercover on a Northwestern student tour.

W H AT D O E S YO U R S P R I N G B R E A K S AY A B O U T YO U ? Whether you’re heading to Panama City Beach or your SO’s hometown, we’ve got you pegged.


WHAT’S YOUR DRUNK FOOD OF CHOICE? Mott’s all natural fruit snacks.

Cheesie’s Tenderizer with EXTRA hot sauce.

NORTH BY NORTHWESTERN MANAGING EDITOR Daniel Fernandez CREATIVE DIRECTOR Emma Kumer PHOTO DIRECTOR Leta Dickinson SENIOR FEATURES EDITORS Meg Pisarczyk, Emma Sarappo SENIOR SECTION EDITORS Claire Bugos, Amanda Gordon & Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff ASSOCIATE EDITORS Molly Glick & Milan Polk ASSISTANT EDITOR Duncan Agnew Frosted Mini DESIGNERS Savannah Christensen, Aine Dougherty, Wheats. Lucy Dwyer & Andie Linker PHOTOGRAPHERS Claire Bugos, Ying Dai, Leta Dickinson, Ayesha Goswamy, Selah Holland, Morgan Lee, Brian Quistberg, Michael del Rosario & Julia Song CONTRIBUTORS Duncan Agnew, Claire Bugos, Leta Dickinson, Lucy Dwyer, Kira Fahmy, Daniel Fernandez, Brooke Fowler, Ivy Fung, Molly Glick, Amanda Gordon, Elissa Gray, Elizabeth Guthrie, Emma Kumer, Jason Mast, Samuel Maude, Carter Mohs, Malloy Moseley, Meg Pisarczyk, Milan Polk, Lila Reynolds, Nicolás Rivero & Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff WEB LIAISONS Tiffany Jeung & Maxine Whitely Pizza. Always pizza.


LOTS of Nutella.




A whole fridge.


PUBLISHER Leo Ji SOCIAL MEDIA COORDINATORS David Guirgis, Milan Polk & Travis Wolf WEBMASTER Maxine Whitely

Chicken fries!

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L I F E A DV I C E F R O M T R ACY VAU G H N - M A N L E Y The African American studies professor shares her thoughts on quilting and Qatar. IVY FUNG


A FA R E W E L L TO W O O Residents of Old Willard reflect on its renovated replacement and their lost love. MALLOY MOSELEY


CIRQUE DE NU In this quarter’s installment of Shit We Found in the Archives... NU’s very own circus! SAMUEL MAUDE


D I S C O V E R I N G S T. LO U I S Tired of the Evanston weather? Visit Missouri with us, where it’s a whole 5 degrees warmer. NICOLÁS RIVERO


GAME ON Find your next Sunday afternoon activity at Evanston Games & Café. BROOKE FOWLER

THE SECRET BIG TOP Walking through the winding passageways of the City Museum in St. Louis, Missouri, you may come across this mysterious carnival. “There were about a million things hidden in that place,” Nicolás Rivero says. “You’re supposed to wander until you discover things you like.” | PHOTO BY JULIA SONG


Life Advice from

Vaughn-Manley The African American studies professor on quilting and Qatar. WRITTEN BY IVY FUNG and DESIGNED BY ANDIE LINKER

Professor Tracy Vaughn-Manley spent seven years at the Northwestern campus in Qatar (NU-Q). She teaches African American studies and quilts in her free time. Her colorful quilts have adorned the Department of African American Studies office, the Dittmar Memorial Gallery (twice!) and the frontpage photo for the New York Times’ 2015 interview with Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison. Vaughn-Manley is back on the Evanston campus as a recent recipient of the Charles Deering McCormick Distinguished Professor of Instruction award. We caught up with her to talk about her artistic pursuits and her experience at NU-Q.

On Quilting I love every aspect of it. There is the initial part of the process when you are kind of planning the design, sometimes I know what exactly I want to do; there are other times when I don’t, but I have found a piece of fabric that I find inspirational. I have also done a quilt for the Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison. She was like, “You know, it’s been a while since I’ve had a quilt.” I asked if she wanted to schedule some time where she could see [my quilts] or anything like that. She said, “No, just do it.” Princeton gave her a celebration at the Lincoln Center in New York. President Clinton was there. We went on stage and I unraveled the quilt, and she got very emotional. It was a wonderful moment.

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The benefits of having professors of color I was a computer science major at California State University, San Bernardino, but I always took English courses. I enrolled in a course in my junior year on the Harlem Renaissance. On the first day, everyone was all kind of waiting for the professor to come in. This door opened, and this black woman walked in. It really was a transformative moment. She blew us all away. I remember being angry that I had reached this age of my life, and I never had a Black woman teach me. She walked with me to the registrar and I changed my major that day, and here we are.

On Qatar Making the most out of college I would recommend students be less focused on getting this degree to get a job. Take a class you may have just a remote interest in, allow yourself the luxury to do, and not be so focused on getting all your requirements. Indulge your curiosity – this is going to be one of the few opportunities that you have to do it.


In Qatar, because of religious laws, young women have to have permission from their fathers to go to school. They’re excited, they want to learn, they work hard, they read everything you give them. They were just so excited to have literature courses, it made me more than ever want to be excellent for them. I’m not saying I wasn’t before, but there is just a kind of renewed sense, and I love that. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

A Farewell to Woo I remember the night I spent with my first love in college. We shared a drink and stayed with each other until two in the morning. I was just a freshman. It was only the second week of school, but I knew that I would never recover from this great love. There would be others, but this moment was about us. Things started to change after my freshman year. I hadn’t been coming around as much, and we both knew it wasn’t going to work out. Things felt different. By the end of sophomore year, we called it quits. There were bigger powers at play, and we hadn’t seen each other since. But this January, we met again. We’d both changed beyond the point of recognition, and I was immediately hit with a pang of melancholy. The latenight dining hall I wrote about with such affection on Valentine’s Day in 2015 was now a stranger to me. Fran’s had gotten rid of her chicken Caesar salads; I’d become a vegetarian. At the beginning of Winter Quarter, Northwestern Residential Life reopened Willard Hall and rededicated it on January 25. Over the course of 1 ½ years, changes were made in the name of progress, of building something “state-of-the-art,” and, by design, unrecognizable to its former denizens. Sure, Willard was never “Hotel Allison,” “Hotel Lincoln,” Elder or even Bobb (and thank God for that), but it was never trying to be. Over the course of its 80-year history, over 500 students applied to live in Willard Residential College each year because they were looking for something that wasn’t state-of-the-art.


They wanted something with character and history, to be a part of a community. Or maybe they were just looking for an absurdly large room with a built-in bathroom. The Willard renovations were part of the larger Northwestern housing plan, which requires new students to live on campus for two years to build a “neighborhood feel.” Visiting the new Willard feels like returning to my childhood neighborhood to see all the tiny houses torn down and replaced with condos and a Sweetgreen. It reeks of gentrification. Many of the Willard Residential College traditions are events or stories that transcend location: Polka Party, the mismatched dress up affair at the Berghoff; Woo-Au Luau, the too-cold celebration of springtime; Fireside Chats about everything and nothing. But taking the memories I have of these events out of the context of the old Willard building is challenging. I can’t divorce my memories of Polka Party from the following late-night conversations in my too-big double. I cannot imagine a Fireside outside of the dimly lit, vermin-infested “Rat Trap” basement. To paraphrase Joni Mitchell, they paved paradise and put up a fitness center. “Willard was, and still is, such a special community for me and a lot of people I know,” says Yoko Kohmoto, former Willard vice president. “Maybe it’s because I loved spending time there even though it was such a shitty building. I’ll never forget when we woke up on Dillo Day and didn’t have hot water or how bad the bathrooms smelled.”


But Kohmoto hopes that the sense of community remains despite the changes. For seniors like us, the spirit of the community is and always will be housed in 1865 Sherman Avenue. “I hope that the community can continue to be one that people feel strongly about for no specific reason,” Kohmoto says. “Especially that now they’re back in the ‘real Willard,’ even though it looks completely different.” Incoming students have plenty of options when it comes to choosing housing. They can scope out NBN’s comprehensive housing guides, get wordof-mouth info from current students (or cluelessly read a Sherman Ave article and freak out about bed bugs, like I did). But Willard has always had something more. It rests on the laurels of the crèmede-la-crème of NU alumni who have graced its halls. Homecoming weekend my freshman year, I was delighted to see alumna Ana Gasteyer walking down my hall. I shrieked, introduced myself as a fan and fellow Willardite. We shared an obligatory “Woo-shack, Woo-rah,” and she told me she was delighted to see nothing had changed. I’m sorry we’ve disappointed you, Ana.


Cirque de NU From the archives: The NU Carnival brought elephants, cash – and racism. WRITTEN BY SAMUEL MAUDE and DESIGNED BY AINE DOUGHERTY and SAVANNAH CHRISTENSEN


n the 1932 Syllabus yearbook, five members of Lambda Chi Alpha pose together. Four are clowns. Another wears blackface. The NU Circus had come to town. In 1908, the NU Circus became a University tradition much like today’s Dance Marathon. It was a monumental fundraiser for the Young Women’s and Men’s Christian Association (YWCA, YMCA). At its peak in 1930, the circus raised $183,819 (when adjusted for inflation) with elephants, massive parades and incredible university support. At the beginning, the circus was hardly a blockbuster event. It was originally a YWCA fundraiser for the Northwestern Settlement, a home for Polish, German, Irish and Scandinavian immigrants. Called “The County Fair,” those early

iterations of the circus took place outside of Willard Hall, with circus– goers meandering through booths selling trinkets and Christmas decorations. In 1910, the YMCA joined the cause, and Northwestern renamed the event: “The College Carnival.” Later, the location moved to “The Big Top,” the recently built Patten Gymnasium. The 1913 Syllabus yearbook highlighted the impact of the new location, saying: “The new Gymnasium offered ample opportunity for really elaborate arrangements . . . A large bill of students appeared, including a circus, a vaudeville show and the famous Red-headed Band.” The circus exploded from there. It was in 1914 that the circus board decided to create an “oldfashioned circus with a parade and

all that goes with it,” according to the 1928 Syllabus yearbook. This change allowed student groups to create floats. One float in 1922 characterized “The N-U Spirit” as “laziness, dates, lack of unity, indifference of students, faculty and alumni.” These floats cruised down Sheridan Road with multiple platforms, meticulously painted words and interactive exhibits; memorable displays include a steamroller and a dinosaur float. The circus kept growing, and by 1924, a water circus debuted on campus. It was so well received that the circus board brought it back the following year. Four Northwestern Olympians – Sybil Bauer, Caroline Smith, Ralph Beyer and Richard Howell – helped to organize and plan the event. This exhibit of speed and agility became so popular that



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the performers had three shows in 1930, and in 1931, the Water Circus featured “fancy diving” and a “fraternity motor boat race.” The 1928 circus program advertised, “the world’s greatest aggregation of human fish – the only water circus in the country,” which cost just 50 cents to attend. Many considered it a highlight of the circus. Northwestern Greek Life served as one of the circus’ greatest supporters. Greek houses hosted their own events around campus, including shows in the Big Top. In 1929, Sigma Nu hosted the “Americanized Bull Fight” and Delta Tau Delta ran “Grecian Urn.” During that year, the University only gave awards to sororities and fraternities. Certain events focused entirely on Greek life, including the “intersorority relays.” Award categories included a clown contest, a side ring contest, a center ring stunt contest and and an all-circus cup. The circus also had its share of bigotry. On November 22, 1910, The Daily Northwestern reported that “Indians decked with war-paint and robes skulked among the whites,” and in 1929, Beta Sigma Omicron hosted an “Indian Pow Wow.” In some photos, clowns wear outfits that resembled those of the Ku Klux Klan and many students wore blackface. In one parade photo, a crowd of clowns head down Sheridan in white robes and pointed hats. The theme of suffrage also emerged at the circus. One parade float read: “Senators Arise! There’s a Lady in the crowd.” The poster endorsed Ruth Hanna McCormick’s bid to the House of Representatives. While politics and racism made a significant impression around campus, fireworks made a bang in the sky in 1931. The circus fired off Northwestern’s “largest display of fireworks” over the lake on both Friday and Saturday nights, and the circus board praised it as “a fitting climax to the Circus program.” The fireworks display ended with an American flag “waving high in the breeze in various colors.” This event was free to all circus-goers. Despite the circus’ incredible success, it ended in 1933, after the Northwestern University Sesquicentennial newsletter called it “the biggest and best [circus] ever.” The University decided that it took too much time away from its core purpose: academics. The following year, a “Greek Fraternity Ball” took its place in the calendar year and the Big Top never rose again.





St. Louis

Getting to know the Gateway to the West.


One funny thing about Evanston winters is they tend to drag on until at least halfway through Spring Quarter. As temperatures refuse to rise and you’re begging for any excuse to escape this cold, cold campus, NBN offers you a way out: a weekend in St. Louis. Pack your bags Thursday night, sprint out of your Friday morning discussion section, and head south for three days of blues, barbecue and a bizarre children’s museum where a rowdy all-ages crowd roves until midnight. Don’t worry, overcommitted Wildcats – you’ll make it back in time for your Sunday night meetings. Getting There: If you have access to a car, you can do the fivehour drive yourself. Otherwise, buying a ticket on Amtrak ($54 round-trip) or Megabus ($30 round-trip) will get you there about as quickly and is more affordable than renting a car. Getting Around: The Metro works well for moving across the city from east to west, but you’ll have to walk a bit or connect to a bus to reach most destinations. A one-day system pass costs $7.50. Of course, you can always call an Uber.


Friday night Beale on Broadway (Cover charge ranges $7-15. Music starts at 8 p.m., and the headliner goes on at 10:30 p.m.)

This vibrant, intimate club features live blues seven nights a week and draft beers under $5. The small venue fills up quickly, and on nights when it gets packed, the standing-room audience members practically touch the stage. In fact, local musicians in the crowd may get pulled onstage to play a few songs with the band.

Forest Park (Free all day) Walk off breakfast with a stroll through this mammoth urban park criss-crossed with creeks, bridges and crunchy gravel paths. As you move deeper into the sprawling green space, the sounds of street traffic fade away, but the high-rises of Central West End remain visible above the trees. Forest Park, which is nearly 500 acres larger than New York’s Central Park, is big enough to hold two museums, a planetarium and a zoo. Missouri Botanical Garden


($12 for non-state residents. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

Courtesy Diner

Whether you’re escaping Evanston’s snow in Winter Quarter or coming down in time for the bloom of the spring, the Missouri Botanical Garden – one of the oldest and largest in the country – is worth a visit. Check out the Climatron, a massive aluminum and glass dome enclosing a steaming tropical oasis of orchids, starfruit and mangroves, complete with a 10-foot waterfall you can walk under.

(1121 Hampton Ave. Open 24 hours a day. Breakfast plates start at $3.)

For a dose of Americana, start your day at this classic diner, which dates back to 1935. You can get eggs or a short stack of pancakes for as little as $3, but we recommend springing for the Hangover (two eggs, hash browns, and chickenfried steak slathered in white sausage gravy) at the high-rolling price of $6.25. Afterward, amble into Forest Park, just a block and a half up the street.

6 Things to Read On NBN's Website



World’s Fair Donuts (Open 4 a.m. to 3 p.m. Donuts go for less than $1.)

As you leave the gardens, make a pit stop at this momand-pop donut shop. The exterior is unassuming, but inside you’ll find a mouthwatering array of apple fritters, Long Johns and donuts ranging from buttermilk to red velvet cake, baked by the same couple that has run the place for more than 40 years. They only take cash, but you won’t need much to load up on enough sugar to boost you through the rest of the day. Pappy’s Smokehouse (Open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Ribs go for $17/half rack.)

This beloved barbecue spot specializes in dry rub St. Louis-style pork ribs, but you’ll have to show up early if you want to try them. At peak times, the line to order wraps through the entire restaurant, and on the night we visited the ribs sold out around 7 p.m. Pappy’s is popular for a reason: the barbecue is to die for, served with four kinds of sauce and sides that are every

bit as delicious as the main dishes. On the walls you’ll find menus signed by Flavor Flav, Nick Jonas and Larry the Cable Guy. Any restaurant that can bring such an eclectic mix of people together at least deserves your consideration. City Museum ($14. Open until midnight on Sat.)

It’s hard to say why the City Museum exists, but I couldn’t be happier that it does. Ostensibly, it’s a children’s museum and four-story jungle gym. But you’ll find plenty of grown ups and couples in their 20s and 30s wandering around alongside toddlers, tweens and teens. Somewhere in this absurd jumble of tunnels, slides, ladders, trains, planes, fossils, aquariums and a circus you’ll become a wide-eyed child, amazed to discover all the elaborate nooks and crannies hidden in this 600,000-square-foot wonderland.

Sunday afternoon Head Downtown Spend a few stress-free hours

downtown, near the train and bus stations, so that you won’t have to dash across the city to make your Amtrak or Megabus. Baseball fans can check out Busch Stadium, music lovers the Blues Museum, bookworms the Central Library. And if you want to take one last longing look at St. Louis before you go, you can shell out $13 for a trip to the top of the Gateway Arch. I couldn’t tell you what that’s like, because I chose to invest that money in beer at nearby 4 Hands Brewing.


To take the edge off your fivehour train or bus ride home, visit the tap room of this local brewery, which on weekends teems with millennial yuppies, hip parents and a surprising number of little kids running around. If you want to grab a bite to eat before you go, there’s a food window where you can order a $7 brat or drop $14 on an elaborate plate of brisket nachos.

Our advice columnist on finding the line between loneliness and complacency and living the life you want.

Future Stars

Four sports writers pick who will be the future of NU athletes.


After losing half his jaw to cancer, an NU French horn player stages a comeback.






Chicago Benefit

4 Hands Brewing (Open noon to 9 p.m. Beers run $5-7.)

Direct Messages

Capturing the early morning light in words and photographs.

We break down NU’s residential experience committee report.

A review of Ravyn Lenae’s and Knox Fortune’s dynamic, poignant performances at Evanston SPACE.



A local business builds community through board games and food. WRITTEN BY BROOKE FOWLER DESIGNED BY AINE DOUGHERTY


idden behind a fingerprintstained door, Evanston Games & Café radiates light and vibrant colors. Inside, patrons mingle near stacks of games or munch on freshlymade grilled cheese sandwiches. In the back, a coffee machine lets out a hiss as it empties its contents into a white mug. “If you wish to pass unsearched, I’ll be needing four gold pieces,” says Max Stoll, a senior at Evanston Township High School and a store regular. Right now, he’s playing a popular board game called Sheriff of Nottingham. Four other players join him, each posing as a merchant trying to sneak illicit goods into the city. Tensions rise as players eye their small piles of gold printed coins. Stoll has been visiting Evanston Games & Café since 2015, when it was still called Elysium Games. Back then, Jessie Reynolds ran the store, using a large settlement from a motorcycle accident to fund the operation. But after a few years, Reynolds realized he did not have enough experience


CHANGERS Wondering what game to play next Saturday night? We caught up with Eli Klein, owner of Evanston Games & Café, to get his expert recommendations.


to run a business, and he offered the lease to Eli Klein, his old roommate, who entered with seven years of retail experience. “One of the reasons I wanted to take over this place instead of letting it close down is the incredible community here,” Klein says. From his first day on the job, he says the community has been welcoming and accepting. After taking over, Klein decided to partner with Chef Sarah Stegner of Prairie Grass Cafe, an upscale eatery in Skokie, Illinois. Her original creations range from Balsamic Onion Grilled Cheese to Lemon Berry Cupcakes. “She‘s phenomenal,” Klein says. “We couldn’t do this without her.” Beyond the delicious food, store patrons can expect rousing games of Settlers of Catan, Dungeons & Dragons campaigns and a weekly board game night. Klein likes to say there’s something for everyone. Today, players mull around the store, catching up with old friends or

meeting new players. At the back of the room, a boisterous laugh erupts from a group huddled around an intricately arranged board. Emmett Hilly, a sophomore at Northwestern, has visited the store a few times over the past year. “There’s a lot of theory about why people play games,” Hilly says. “But one of the central engagements is camaraderie. I like a good challenge and I’m competitive. Those are the two big drivers for me.” The little shop doesn’t just attract the local community, though. At Magic the Gathering tournaments, players come to the store from as far as Indianapolis to gain a fighting chance at winning larger national brackets. With sandwiches, steaming cups of coffee, and a tight-knit community backing him up, Klein says he’s prepared to make Evanston Games & Café bigger and better than ever before. “Even before I opened, an incredible community started forming here,” he says. “I’m not going anywhere.”




1-5 players | 115+ minutes $59.99

2-4 players | 30+ minutes $39.99

2-5 players | 90+ minutes $49.99

Set in 1920s Europe, players race to complete six of nine possible objectives, including building structures, constructing mechs, recruiting villagers and collecting different types of resources.

Step into the shoes of an enterprising Renaissance-era merchant as you construct mines, collect gems and eventually sell your jewels to wealthy patrons in a race to acquire as much wealth as possible.

From the minds behind Dungeons & Dragons, players go on quests and engage in sabotage and subterfuge to gain control of an ancient city over eight rounds of gameplay.




How a tiny, Evanston-based radio station reached the world.

A writer on the challenges of embracing vulnerability. LILA REYNOLDS


WO R L D O N H I S S H O U L D E R S Professor John C. Hudson has been the sole lead on the geography department for 31 years. CLAIRE BUGOS

NITESKOOL LIVES AGAIN How one student brought an organization back to life. CARTER MOHS

A L L S TAT E , N O FA N S With the stadium 45 minutes away, fans of the men’s basketball team have struggled to show up. DUNCAN AGNEW

PA I N T I N G S F O R P O S T E R I T Y Northwestern faculty team up with the Art Institute of Chicago to investigate classic works. AMANDA GORDON


W H AT T H E H E L L A R E T H E D I G I TA L H U M A N I T I E S ? Let’s figure this out once and for all. MILAN POLK

HERE’S LOOKING AT YOU, KID There’s an abandoned warehouse beside the Damen grain elevators, a necessary stop before venturing over to the main attraction. “If you’re feeling adventurous, you can climb onto the second floor to get a better view of the silos,” Emma Kumer says. “There’s this crumbling staircase with half the stairs missing ... you’ve got to take it just because you know every mother in the world would tell you not to.” PHOTO BY LETA DICKINSON





n 1206, two Viking warriors, Torstein Skevla and Skjervald Skrukk, donned birch-bark leggings to ski through the silent Norwegian winter and rescue the kingdom’s child prince. In doing so, they imprinted their names on history: They were the Birkebeiners, Norwegian for “birch bark leggings.” Some 750 years later, Birkebeiner descendents in Hayward, Wisconsin paid tribute to their heritage and created the American Birkebeiner, a 34-mile cross country ski race. And people around the world, from Wisconsin to Oslo, could hear about it thanks to a unique new radio station. Michael Poulos, a lawyer and journalist from Evanston, shared the story of the American Birkebeiner with the world in his report “Birkie Fever.” Poulos described it as “a state of mind where you compete, instead, with yourself, just to impress yourself.” This broadcast typified a new, intriguing way to broadcast on shortwave radio. This was Radio Earth.

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The show was the brainchild of Poulos and three aspiring media entrepreneurs: Jeff White (president), John Freberg (chief engineer), and John Beebe (marketing consultant). Traditional FM radio can only broadcast locally due to shorter wave frequencies, but in the late 1970s, shortwave radio – a form of broadcast that could transmit across continents and over oceans because of higher wave frequencies – attracted about 200 million daily listeners worldwide. But it was dominated by propaganda and God-speak. The Radio Earth team saw an opening in the waves during the tail end of the Cold War: There was a need for unbiased, worldwide radio news. Someone had to step up. “We know who speaks for the nations, but who speaks for the earth?” Poulos says. The concept of Radio Earth began at Northern Illinois University in the late 1970s, where Beebe, White and

Freberg worked on a public radio program together. Beebe and White decided to create an international shortwave radio station after meeting with Beebe’s father, a media advertiser, who affirmed the idea’s viability. As multinational companies expanded, he explained, so too would the international advertising market. They founded Radio Earth, promising “objective news, information, music, and feature reports to … the world community, on the shortwave bands.” White says the program attracted broadcasters from state-run stations in search of free reign and creative opportunity. “We had segments from people from all over the world,” White says, “some of whom worked in government stations but felt really stifled with the programming they were allowed to do there.” “We had a point of view, but our point of view was to not have a

point of view,” Poulos says. “There were people here in Evanston reaching out to a world that was still very much divided. Climbing over the walls and climbing over the Iron Curtain. Touching people and showing them that there is a way to live where you’re not opposed to other people. Instead, you’re in it together.” Preparations for the first broadcast began in the early 1980s. In his spare bedroom, Freberg spent his nights working past 2 a.m. building a portable studio that followed Radio Earth around the world, and eventually returned to Sherman Avenue. There, the Pouloses continued recording until the early 1990s. There was just one problem: The FCC prohibited U.S.-based shortwave radio stations to broadcast to the U.S. They had to find a different home. Radio Earth’s vision finally came to fruition when a Hilton opened its doors on a Caribbean island called Curacao, and they subsequently received financial support from the minister of finance and tourism organizations (An airline flew the tapes to Santa Domingo for transmission in exchange for promotional opportunities). Freberg then sent broadcasting equipment to Curacao, where White oversaw assembly of a recording studio inside the Hilton. “All the work we were putting in in advance of getting this thing on the air, it all seemed kind of nebulous, sort of surreal in a way,” Freberg says. On June 1, 1983, two weeks after the first shipment of equipment to Curacao, Freberg tuned into shortwave radio and heard White’s voice on the other end, along with fellow Northern Illinois graduate Matt Bell. There was Radio Moscow. There was Voice of America. There was religious radio. And now, there was Radio Earth. Broadcasts opened with, “Radio Earth presents: the world.” Radio Earth told human interest stories and even ad-libbed their broadcasts, a far cry from scripted state-run stations. “It gave it a very live feel,” says Suzanne Poulos, the secretary treasurer of the company. Still, the founders weren’t certain of this new method’s impact. Two weeks after that first broadcast, though, the hotel secretary called them into her office; she had something important to show them. “There was a big, gigantic mailbag there, and she said, ‘All these letters here are for you,’” White says. “Everybody loved [our programming], we had letters from all over the world. And so [we knew] the concept worked.”

From the tiny island in the Caribbean, the group’s soundwaves rippled across the blue waters of the Atlantic. At its peak, according to a Chicago Tribune article, Radio Earth attracted over 600,000 listeners weekly. A 1984 Review of International Broadcasting study concluded that its lead program “The World” had the number two daily program behind “BBC World News.” Freberg and White note that these numbers, were hard to quantify to advertisers, and were a key reason for Radio Earth’s eventual decline. A lack of Arbitron ratings (think Nieman ratings for radio) scared ad agencies away. Despite the interest of major companies, there wasn’t enough market research to ensure profitability. “Advertising is a business where advertisers want to understand the value they’re getting from the advertisements,” Freberg says. “It was clear we were not getting the advertising response we needed. At a certain point, it was like ‘we’re all paying for this out of our own pockets.’” Despite financial struggles, the programming had tremendous reach. The team received letters from British naval officers at sea, where Radio Earth was the only station they could pick up. Poulos, who ran for Illinois State Representative in 1984, remembers going door-to-door in Evanston, where voters recognized his voice from the broadcasts. “From the get go, it was casting a broad net,” Poulos says. “You didn’t have a concentrated audience. What happened was the program immediately had an impact on the international broadcasting community.” Listeners could tune in to hear about life thousands of miles away from recognizable broadcasters who weren’t trying to convince them to support Communism or believe in God. Instead, these broadcasters enthusiastically reported on issues and events that moved them, which in turn moved listeners. The international community realized the importance of audience relationships as listeners. Radio Sweden even ran a formal study that concluded it needed to produce more broadcasting like Radio Earth’s. “Radio Earth, even though it was not a financial success, really did give my wife and me a chance to reach out and touch people everywhere,” Poulos says. Once White and Bell moved on from Radio Earth, the Pouloses took over production and broadcasting responsibilities, setting up the portable studio in a small room of their legal office.

In 2018, Radio Earth no longer broadcasts on shortwave, though a couple posts survive on YouTube. The other founders moved on over the decades, but the Pouloses still work in the office on Sherman Avenue, nestled into an unassuming office space that still dons the Radio Earth sign. While the original team remembers Radio Earth as a representation of all that is possible in youth, it is perhaps Poulos’ conclusion at the end of “Birkie Fever” that best sums up Radio Earth’s goal of letting both the Earth, and its people, speak for themselves. “It is a race where its total is greater than the sum of its parts, but where the final meaning is found in the individual,” Poulos said at the time. “With determination and inner strength, everybody can win the Birkie, regardless of ability. Perhaps the final lesson of the Birkebeiner is with that same determination and inner strength, everybody can also win at life.”

What the heck is a

shortwave radio? Shortwave radio, unlike FM radio, broadcasts over higher frequency waves, meaning waves that occur more frequently. These frequencies can bounce off the upper atmosphere, called the ionosphere. This lets them travel farther than local FM radio across continents and over oceans.

Antennas for shortwave radios, which can be the size of football fields, often cost more than $50,000.

After 31 years as the only geography professor, John C. Hudson’s imminent retirement may put his long-lived program to bed. WRITTEN and PHOTOGRAPHED BY CLAIRE BUGOS DESIGNED BY EMMA KUMER



t’s a Tuesday evening, and Professor John C. Hudson sits at his desk. To his back is a row of filing cabinets, a broken Dell computer and a globe. The houseturned-office space at 515 Clark, which has been vacated save Hudson’s office and an assortment of junk from past occupants, is quiet. Hudson looks up from his work, past a poster featuring corn varieties grown in North Dakota and through the window, where he watches the day turn to dusk. After a moment, he turns back to grading his students’ assignments on the geography of Chicago. When he’s finished, he’ll pack his things into a brown leather briefcase, slide a canvas jacket over his signature plaid button-down shirt and drive home. Before falling asleep tonight, he will write out every word of tomorrow’s lecture. He knows the content better than anyone, but it is challenging to retain all that knowledge, even after 52 years. Hudson has been the captain of the geography program since 1987, when the department shut down. Throughout this time, he has led students through geography: the study of the physical features of the earth and how it is affected by, and affects, human populations. Although the 76-year-old professor

dreads the day when he must give up the routine of teaching for retirement, his departure is imminent. When he goes, the program he sustained for so long will surely go with him.

After reaching a peak in the early 1970s, the following decade saw a decline in the number of bachelor’s degrees conferred in geography. This trend was visible at Northwestern too: faculty began to leave their positions and the number of geography majors dwindled. By 1973, five of the eight geography faculty had departed for other universities or jobs. In 1986, only two tenured faculty and a handful of assistant professors remained. Under the direction of University President Arnold Weber, the dean of Weinberg shut down the department without consulting the geography team. Although no surprise to Hudson, the announcement shocked many students and faculty. Even several years after losing its department status, the importance of geography remained hotly contested. In a 1990 letter to the editor, Chemistry Professor Mark Ratner applauded Weber’s decision to axe the geography and dental hygiene

departments, as they “are simply inappropriate at a private research university, especially in a time of extremely tight budgeting.” Hudson retorted with a barb of his own the following week: “It strikes me as inappropriate to have the chairman of one of our leading departments cast aspersions on one of our smallest programs in the course of praising the University’s president.” After his geography counterpart, Michael Dacey, broke off to begin the Mathematical Methods in Social Sciences program, Hudson became the University’s sole geographer. He was a tenured professor, and thus allowed to continue teaching, bearing the weight of the program on his own. “I started talking to the dean and said ‘I want a program in geography,’ and he said ‘You can have [it], but it has to depend on just you,” Hudson says. “Thirty-one years later I’m still doing the same thing.” In hindsight, Hudson says he felt somewhat relieved when the department was downsized. “I can’t tell you how long I tried to keep a sinking ship afloat.”

After the department’s dissolution, the geography program became part of the anthropology department

as an adjunct major. Although technically a professor of anthropology, Hudson’s focus is entirely on geography, and he works independently, without help from teaching assistants or other faculty apart from visiting lecturer Michael Ribant, who teaches Geographic Information Systems. Unlike some professors who take leaves of absence to focus on research, Hudson works on projects throughout the school year. He has six books to his name and hopes to complete another this year on the geography of Illinois. Despite his long career, he only elected to take time off when he recieved a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1988. Through all of it, Hudson has managed to teach five lecture courses per year, on topics from economic geography to principles of cartography. One of his courses on North American geography has been offered by Northwestern every spring for the past 47 years. “The fact that this has existed in a very stable situation for over 30 years – I wouldn’t have predicted that,” he says. Though he updates his facts and figures, Hudson’s teaching is traditional. “Geography is really not sexy,” he says. He studies maps

and data. He teaches his students global trends in the production of industrial roundwood. And yet, he scoffs at the idea of trying to appeal to students with flashy course titles. “Teach geography, call it geography, and students will be interested and take it,” he says. It seems, however, that the students who most enjoy his classes are drawn by his persona. “He always has a smile on his face... He’s never really in a bad mood,” says Sagaar Jagetia, who double majors in geography and economics. “The reason I chose geography is because of him and how interesting he makes it.” This year, Hudson is teaching around 250 students and eight geography majors. Most study economics, environmental science and policy, anthropology and journalism. When leafing through old photos or membership lists for Gamma Theta Upsilon, the geography honors fraternity, he chuckles as he recalls past students. He speaks fondly of those in his classes, remarking, “he’s a good guy” or “she’s an excellent student.” In the nearly half century that Hudson has taught at Northwestern, he has witnessed sweeping changes in campus

culture and society. And yet the trajectory of the geography program and his own approach to teaching has changed remarkably little. He still crafts maps using a 1994 Dell computer running Windows 2000 and doesn’t publish his courses to Canvas. It is his passion for the subject and for the routine of teaching that compels him to return, year after year, to the blackboard. “Why do I do all this?” he muses. “Mostly because it’s fun.” As he looks forward to his 77th birthday, Hudson’s retirement looms large. When he finally takes his leave, the last remnant of what was once a fundamental discipline and thriving department will also depart. “As long as I’m here, geography is here,” Hudson says. “When I go, who knows?” The floorboards creak beneath him as he switches his desk lamp off and walks toward the door, past world maps and shelves of geography dissertations from the 1950s. For now, though, he doesn’t seem bothered about the future. The professor has another lecture to prepare.



n a brisk Sunday morning in a dark back room of Louis Hall, something magical happens. It is the rebirth of Niteskool Productions, a Northwestern student group that has made music videos since the ‘80s. The group closed up shop in 2015, but Bienen sophomore Erica Bank is resurrecting Niteskool in her own vision. And, behold, it is very good. A group of about 20 students fill the room, each with their own expertise in various aspects of production. A legal committee representative is on standby to make sure there are no problems with copyrights or contracts. From the back of the room, Bank leads it all, looking on with calm resolve. She may run the show, but she still has time to take it all in. She even pauses to capture the scene on Snapchat. The group is gathered in the set room of Louis for One Takes, a new initiative launched by Bank last December. In the past, Niteskool Productions focused on producing a single large-scale music video for a student band, but the new Niteskool has a different approach. In an ode to

Niteskool Lives Again How one student brought an iconic organization back to life. WRITTEN BY CARTER MOHS, DESIGN BY ANDIE LINKER and PHOTOS BY LETA DICKINSON the NPR Tiny Desk Concert, a popular live music series shot in an intimate setting, Niteskool plans to release a series of casual concerts recorded with high-quality audio and visuals in a single take. This quarter the groups consist of Prom D8, Unpopular Opinion and Thunk Acapella. “We are just focusing on Northwestern student musicians right now because we really want to highlight the talent that Northwestern has,” Bank says. “Being in the music school and WNUR, I’m surrounded by very impressive undergraduates every single day and I think a lot of students don’t have the same ability I do to be exposed to that level of talent.” Bank says she wanted to get involved in the group before even starting her freshman year, only to learn that Niteskool had been shut down two years earlier. Instead of giving up on the club, though, the ad hoc music business major saw an opportunity to build her resume and pursue a passion. “I’m not really taking any music business classes, so Niteskool is the first real, hands-on experience I’ve gotten because it’s my own little business,” Bank says. “I got to bridge my passion

and knowledge of music and dive into this passion project.” Niteskool has experienced faculty advisors to assist with operations, including RTVF Professor Jacob Smith and Gregg Latterman, a Kellogg innovation and entrepreneurship faculty member. Smith first heard about the group just before he started teaching at Northwestern five years ago and wanted to get involved. When he heard Bank was trying to restart the club, it seemed like a perfect opportunity. “The big ideas have really been coming from the students, and I think that’s the way it should be,” Smith says. “[Bank] had this vision and idea about how it could be rebooted and restarted, but immediately when she spread this idea around, it sounded like many students were getting on board and wanting to be involved.” Smith and Latterman both have extensive background in the music industry. Smith played bass on the doubleplatinum album How to Save a Life by The Fray, which Latterman was managing at the time. Together, the two are a dynamic duo: Smith helps with the recording and Latterman offers advice on the business aspects of Niteskool. “We’ll be able to get big artists here once Niteskool is able to prove they’ll be able to capture, make it sound good and look good,” Latterman says. “There’s a way to build something that’s not being done at other places.” For now, though, Bank wants to keep the vision simple. She says she’ll be happy if Niteskool can record One Takes in campus locations such as Deering Library or Morty’s office. She just wants to see how well the group can do on its own. “When I got the mastered audio from the first recording, that fully made my day,” Bank says. “I’ve been learning so much and I’ve been through so many challenges. Just seeing the final product, especially after a hard production day, is super rewarding.”


All State, No Fans Without Welsh-Ryan, Northwestern Men’s Basketball didn’t live up to the hype. WRITTEN BY DUNCAN AGNEW and DESIGNED BY EMMA KUMER


ou know the smell. The pungent odor of Natural Light in Elder. Consuming this nectar of the gods was the best way to ease the pain of the coming trek: the journey to Allstate Arena. The alcohol also blunted the trauma that awaited me, and all Northwestern basketball fans, at home games this winter. After capturing an NCAA tournament bid for the first time in school history last season, NU’s basketball team kicked off its encore season at No. 19. Nothing could hold the Wildcats back —except construction. Welsh-Ryan Arena, where students stormed the court after the historic victory over Michigan that sent the ‘Cats to the Big Dance, was out of commission this winter. The $110 million renovation will offer new amenities like a nutrition center and enhanced lighting, but the construction has thrown the basketball program into limbo for much of the past year. The team was practicing on campus at Blomquist Gym — yes, a Big Ten college basketball team practiced at Blom — and playing home games at Allstate Arena in Rosemont. Instead of the casual 15-minute walk or five-minute shuttle to WelshRyan, Wildcat fans faced a daunting hourlong bus ride to the stadium. Andrew Jacobs, a former Northwestern football manager and self-proclaimed sports fanatic, bristled when describing his experience in the student section at Allstate. The typically exuberant senior looked ready to sink into fetal position. “It doesn’t feel like home,” Jacobs says. “It very much feels like an away game.”

But his face lit up at the mere mention of last season, as he recalled the electric environment in Evanston during Northwestern’s magical run to the tournament. “The students were engaged. It was bumpin’,” Jacobs says. “Last year was the peak, and it was absolutely fantastic.” To its credit, the athletic department did everything in its power to get students to Rosemont. Emails about free shuttles, promotional giveaways and catered food from Chick-fil-A, Culver’s and Papa John’s flooded student inboxes. Wildside even offered shuttle-riders a $15 meal voucher for concessions at Allstate. Desperation was hardly a good look, but things soon took a controversial turn: Before a matchup with Penn State, walk-on Charlie Hall announced that the fraternity boasting the largest attendance would receive $1,000 and free Under Armour shirts. And, for a bout with Michigan on February 6, the athletic department pledged $10 to Cradles to Crayons for every Dance Marathon participant who attended. Even at these larger games, students struggled to fill the risers behind the basket; without the pep band, fans only filled a few rows. “There’s enough people there that it doesn’t feel empty, but the student section is 50 people instead of hundreds,” Jacobs says. “It’s significantly smaller. It doesn’t feel as loud.” Despite a meager student section, my time at Rosemont was wild and wonderful. After walking to Blom to catch a shuttle for the showdown against Illinois, I

grabbed a free Culver’s cheeseburger and geared up for a lively night. A sketchy bottle of rum and Coke made its way up the aisles of the bus during our long trek. When we finally pulled into the vast abyss that is the Allstate parking lot, Wildside representatives greeted us with the prized $15 concessions vouchers. My traveling companions were quick to point out that a 24 ounce can of beer was, quite conveniently, $13. Filled with liquid courage, a group of boisterous freshmen led the small but mighty Northwestern crowd in trash talking the overwhelming number of Illinois fans in attendance. Each foul was met with ecstatic chants of “bullshit!” Perhaps the highlight of the night was the student section frenzy in response to Steve Aoki’s “Turbulence” blaring over the PA system. But nothing could truly compare to the satisfaction of Bryant McIntosh and company conquering the Illini in overtime — a rare Big Ten win for the good guys. Still, it would be hard not to call the season a flop. Maybe last winter was a fluke. Playing in a new arena certainly didn’t help. And some athletes have been skeptical since the announcement of renovations, none more so than senior forward Gavin Skelly. “It sucks,” he said during a preseason media day. “Playing at Allstate is going to be really weird.” And weird it was. In the end, we had no choice but to drink our Natty to the return of Welsh-Ryan next fall. But now, Allstate, I bid you farewell. I hope we never meet again.


Sewing my Selves How I learned to be open with the world, my family and myself in the #MeToo era.




cts of sharing defined my childhood. When I was young, I brought extra rice cakes to school because I knew my friend liked them. On my birthday, I made sure my sister received a party favor so she wouldn’t feel left out on my special day. At one point, I even shared a journal with my best friend and alternated writing story chapters with her. Though I became an expert at sharing things, I never learned how to share myself. In retrospect, this seems strange, because my parents had no such problems; I heard plenty of stories about my mom’s childhood, and when I was older my dad regaled me with some choice highlights from his college fraternity days. But my parents sharing intangible stories always seemed separate from my small acts of generosity. Of course, when I was 7 and my most important life event was my hamster escaping and lodging herself inside a wall during show-and-tell, being open with family members didn’t seem all that important. But as the world got a little tougher and

20 WINTER 2018

my problems grew more nebulous, my capacity to share became increasingly elusive. I didn’t learn what I was willing to share until that decision was taken from me. During my sophomore spring at Northwestern, a man I considered a friend raped me. I was made to share my body – a person’s most intimate possession – with someone who never asked. I suddenly felt very isolated from the communities and friends I had built over the past two years. I felt myself needing support in a way I was only comfortable providing, not receiving. When I forced myself to ask for help from those I was closest to, I was met with more support than I could have anticipated. Slowly, as I learned to incorporate being a survivor into my working identity, my small circle of support expanded to include more peers. I didn’t know how to bring my parents into the drama that had taken place more than 2,000 miles away. So I didn’t. I planned on it remaining a lifelong secret to my family members. The fact that it was

common knowledge among most of my Northwestern friends did not matter.

Around the time I left for college, I started to place my past trauma into a friend’s palms and trust them to treat it with love and care. I quickly realized upon arriving to Northwestern that home had at least one luxury (not including being able to shower without shoes on) that school did not: time. Years of coexistence helped my family understand me. Over time, we had unwittingly practiced the art of showing and not telling. It became clear that I wasn’t going to make friends without a new approach. That’s when I started unlearning the rehearsed responses that had filled every conversation I’d had for as long as I could remember. I learned that sometimes telling is as powerful as showing. Weeks of small talk morphed into a race to know as much about one another as possible. Conversations became a version of trading: in exchange for revealing a personal and painful part of myself, I expected and received the same in return. Within a few weeks, my friends knew stories that I wouldn’t dare share with my family. I was comfortable, and I got the support I needed when I needed it. But when I saw how my friends reacted to my experiences, I could not imagine the trauma it would cause my family. The #MeToos that dotted – and then flooded – my Facebook newsfeed in October started to smudge the line between school and home. Much like when I was assaulted, I felt forced into a public and uncomfortable form of vulnerability. By posting on Facebook, every person in my life could hear my story, whether in Amherst or Evanston. Even though I would normally be the first person to share, I ultimately decided against it. But I felt like avoiding the Facebook trend risked discrediting me as a survivor, advocate and ally. While the pressure caused me to retreat back into silence, it pushed many others to break theirs – including my mother. When she shared her story of assault for the first time, it leveled the mountains and valleys that until then had kept home and school separate. Since that conversation, I’ve felt a tension growing in my definition of self that I didn’t realize had been changing steadily over the

past three years. A person can’t understand me at this moment without knowing my life story – and I’m living in a world where many of the people most important to me don’t. I want to get to a point where everyone in my life knows this version of me. But I’m still working to find a way to stitch together my two homes in a way that doesn’t cause them to unravel every time I board the plane. Each time I return to my hometown, it grows more difficult for me to shut down free-flowing, talkative Lila in exchange for the practiced, careful self I’ve rehearsed for years. Up until recently, most of the times I’ve been capitalv-Vulnerable have been at breaking points. My vulnerability has felt forced: my first visit with a therapist in 10th grade resulted from of a friend worrying for my safety, and my anxiety disorder became decidedly more public after my third social-event-related panic attack as a sophomore in college. A need to seek help, more often than not, leaves me feeling damaged and weak. I wonder whether I was wrong to wait to get help as long as I did or wrong to seek it at all. Each of these splinters brings me closer to collapse, but I often find comfort and healing in my friends’ voluntary openness. I am starting to understand why sharing has been painful by recognizing the times when doing so can be both powerful and positive. My mom, after all, didn’t open up to me because she needed to; she treated her experiences as an invitation to trade stories with me and my sister. I just neglected to RSVP. This is why I now choose vulnerability. Not because I need to, but because I want to. Though I didn’t do this in the public way that the #MeToo campaign offered, this essay will dismantle the privacy I have cultivated for as long as I can remember. By the time this piece is published, I will have shared my longoverdue story with my family. Hopefully, this will be the first step in sharing with them the woman I have become.

“I’m still working to find a way to stitch together my two homes in a way that doesn’t cause them to unravel every time I board the plane.”


Paintings for

Posterity Northwestern faculty team up with the Art Institute of Chicago to investigate classic works.


eorgia O’Keeffe once described Cerro Pedernal, a volcanic mesa nestled in the Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico, as her private possession. Looking at the cool turquoise and warm pastel hues in her 1941 painting Pedernal, you sense her intimacy with the desert landscape. If you look a little closer, the colorful oil painting reveals its age. Bits of discoloration and small protrusions puncture the canvas's surface like acne on an otherwise smooth visage. These deformations are not unique to O’Keeffe. If you visit Northwestern’s Block Museum of Art, you can see them on the surface of Roman-Egyptian funerary portraits. They form when heavy metal ions in pigments react with fatty acids in the oil binding of the paint, producing pus-like bumps on the painting’s surface. Marc Walton, an associate professor of materials science and engineering, saw these deformations when he visited the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe back in 2015. The museum’s head of conservation, Dale Kronkright, contacted Walton and his team at NU-ACCESS, the Northwestern University and Art Institute of Chicago Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts, to evaluate the O’Keeffe collection as part of an ongoing research project. “We’re trying to understand the basic chemistry of how soaps form, why they form and whether we can model them,” Walton says.

In December, Walton received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to conduct research within the emerging fields of technical art history and conservation science. The grant allows Walton and other scientists at NU-ACCESS to investigate soap bubble deformations and develop digital tools

to evaluate paintings and diagnose their condition. Oliver Cossairt, who teaches electrical engineering and computer science at Northwestern, is working with Walton to develop a technique called photometric stereo. This technology will allow museums to monitor individual works of art by capturing a series of photographs with a controlled light source. In his office overlooking the Shakespeare Garden, Cossairt scoots away from his desk to explain the technique. “Imagine a basketball in front of you and your eye is the camera,” he says. “Fix the point on the basketball that you’re looking at.” He moves his hand in front of his face. “When I move the light over here, that gets dimmer.” If conservators know where a light source is when taking a photograph, they can examine brightness values for individual pixels in the image. This can be used to determine the underlying surface of the painting at the pixel location. The technique allows conservators and scientists to decouple the two-fold problem of soap formations: surface protrusions and discoloration, which were previously impossible to distinguish. Cossairt and the cohort at NUACCESS plan to run a series of controlled experiments that accelerate the deterioration process of a sample in different conditions. This will allow computer scientists to create a digital reference and set of statistics modeling the decay. Conservators can then track the pace of soap bubble development for individual pieces of art and determine whether a painting’s surface is stable enough to transport. The team hopes to develop a software that enables conservators to upload photos they have taken using the photometric stereo technique. The software would then

generate statistics and predictions based on both the photos and the controlled experiments conducted at NU-ACCESS. With access to this data, Cossairt says, conservators can be more confident in their ability to share art with cultural heritage institutions around the world.

Fifteen years ago, when Francesca Casadio came to the U.S. from Italy to work as a conservation scientist at the Art Institute, it became apparent that Chicago's largest museum needed more scientific resources to monitor its sprawling collection. Northwestern emerged as the solution, recruiting students and faculty from its material science, engineering, computer science and art history departments to collaborate with conservators at the Art Institute. In 2012, the collaboration grew into a formalized research center through the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The following year, Casadio hired Marc Walton as the lead scientist for NU-ACCESS. “The beauty of doing this at NU is that you touch a synapse and then the surge of the signal goes in directions that you’re not able to anticipate,” she says. This academic ethos and new technology enables NU-ACCESS to be an invaluable resource for museums to monitor and assess the state of their collection. “We used to need this much material to get answers,” Casadio says, picking up my coffee cup. “Now it’s this much material,” she says, pointing to a small crumb on the table. With the expertise and resources of NU-ACCESS, paintings like O’Keeffe’s Pedernal can retain their color, and poignancy, for generations to come. “Paintings, like us, are going to age,” Casadio says. “But you can do something to slow down the time.”

The Story of the Silos, as Told Through Explosions After a century of destruction and construction, the Damen Grain Elevators remain. WRITTEN and DESIGNED BY EMMA KUMER

YOU GET INTO THE DAMEN SILOS through a hole in the wall. You’ll know you’ve found the right place when you spot the gaping entry, crumbling edges marking what was probably an explorer’s breach in the cement. What remains is a narrow entrance framed by plywood and concrete, a place that can only be accessed if you’re willing to abandon the outside world. Your feet will land in dust, soft and thin as it clouds around your knees and settles at your ankles. Your shoes add their own imprints to the existing tesselation of soles. Since there’s no way for the wind to reach inside the tunnels, they’ll probably stay there forever like footprints on the moon. If you go far enough, you’ll find them. In the farthest corner, against the back wall, cloaked in a chilly darkness that not even spiderwebs dare interrupt: a row of massive metal machines, a testament to the place this once was. With their various arms in eternal freeze frame, it’s difficult to imagine that these monstrous devices once rose to the silos’ peak. These steel pulleys are what makes the place an elevator. But before the Damen Silos became Michael Bay’s pyrotechnic playground or the first search result for “urban exploration in Chicago,” they were just the Santa Fe Grain Elevators. It’s been 186 years.


explosion timeline



This was a different Chicago. Without skyscrapers, the tallest structures in the city are these cylinders, 30 feet high. The people of the city are insanely proud of these primitive silos; what they hold might as well be gold. It’s only grain, but it’s the commodity that will define Chicago’s 19th century. The epicenter of agrarian America, the grain trade is the way to fortune. The way of the future. The first iteration of the Damen grain elevators stands at an ideal intersection – round towers rising between the Illinois-Michigan Canal and the Santa Fe railway (which, ironically, can access virtually any big city except Santa Fe). These aren’t the only grain elevators in the city, but they are among the largest. Even in the earliest stage of their development, they cover as much area as a five-story-high football field. There are hundreds of places like this scattered around the city, but Damen stands out: A towering symbol of Chicago’s prosperity like a firm punch on the skyline. A firm punch, with a 35-fingered knuckle. This year, they catch on fire for the first time.

The 1832 fire inspired a new solution from grain industrialists: build new silos from concrete. They do, not realizing that the original container was not the cause of the earlier inferno. They won’t discover the truth until it blows up before their eyes 73 years later. A spontaneous combustion roars on the bank of the Chicago River, the second explosion in a series of chain-smoking resurrections. A cloud of hot dust tears through layers of sheet iron, chunks of cement torn apart like ice cubes splintering on a kitchen floor. Within an hour, a million bushels of grain are aflame. Nothing remains. Several workers are dead. If the composition of the structure isn’t fireproof, the industrialists assume that maybe architecture is the problem. To solve it, the railway hires an accomplished civil engineer. His name is John Metcalf, and he adds vents and windows. In the new silos, there’s a powerhouse, an elevator and 35 storage silos. There are driers and bleachers and oat clippers and cleaners and scourers and dust packers and boilers fed by water from the Chicago River. It can hold one million bushels of grain. This is his Titanic, unburnable and incredible and inextinguishable. His goal is to build something that can last more than 30 years without catching on fire. Instead, he builds something that will outlive the grain industry itself – despite constantly catching on fire.


After a couple decades of uninterrupted operation, the third explosion hits. John Metcalf’s design has failed, though he’s not upset. He has been dead for 20 years. At this point, it’s time for industrialists to accept that grain silos will just blow up whether you want them to or not. The grain dust, when mixed with oxygen, creates a volatile gas that will explode at high temperatures. For the silo workers, there’s a constant fear that any dusty summer day could be their last. For a while, the silos were lucrative despite constant reconstruction. Libby Mahoney, senior curator for the Chicago Historical Museum, emphasizes their importance. “A lot of people made fortunes off the grain industry,” Mahoney explains. “That’s where many of our city’s greatest fortunes were made.” Since it’s the peak of Chicago’s grain reign, the site is rebuilt and expanded to hold twice as many bushels. It’s sold to the Stratton Grain Company after the reconstruction. From the flames come even better, stronger silos – a concrete phoenix rising from dusty ashes. The fire took a lot of things away. But every time, the industry keeps roaring back.



The fourth explosion comes too late. By 1977, self-destructing silos are enough reason for grain industrialists to give up. By this point, the interstate highway system has made Damen’s location little more than a convenience. Like the meat-packing industry, most agriculture has moved outside of Chicago. It’s not lucrative to rebuild the silos for a fifth time. Instead, they are sold to the Department of Central Management, who will hold on until an investor buys the land. At this point, they don’t look completely destroyed – just defeated. There are scorch marks on concrete, but the place is still there. Bridges link the towers, staircases reach the ground and wooden slats form a functional dock on the riverbank that doesn’t yet overlap like piano keys. This is the year the workers stop their machines and empty the grain reserve. Someone left the grinders, boilers, driers and bleachers at rest. They will never move again.


Thirty-five years after the death of the grain industry, the story has yet to end. The grain elevator is no longer a source of pride, little more than a backdrop to a city that has left it in the past. To some, it’s an eyesore, especially as it accumulates grime and graffiti. Yet Chicago’s undemolished trash is Hollywood’s treasure. Enter Michael Bay, stage right. During location scouting for the fourth installment of the Transformers franchise, the crew is determined to turn the riverbank ruins into a movie set. The silos are supposed to look like they’re in China. They replace the skulls and swear words with giant Mandarin characters. Michael Bay and Mark Wahlberg set foot on the site, the same place that marked the start of a glorious era of gluten. With a mixture of CGI and dynamite, the fifth explosion hits. For the first time in history, the silos blow up on purpose. The next year, Transformers: Age of Extinction comes out. Anyone watching the movie assumes the Damen Silos truly are in China, which just goes to show that they were more talented at acting than the rest of the cast. And just like that, the Damen Silos are alive again. Perhaps all they needed was another explosion.

At this point, the Silos have breezed from industrial grain grinders to Hollywood actors, but despite the impressive resume, no one’s buying. The price drops almost 500 percent to $3.8 million while the Department of Central Management attempts to sell the place off. Northwestern History Professor Henry Binford explained that it’s a difficult sell, since you’re buying more than just the property. Not only do you have to buy the plot of land, you’ve also got to test the soil for chemicals. “There are a lot of unpredictable costs that go into a place like that,” Binford says. And so, the silos sit in varying stages of decay, waiting for the sixth explosion. The one that will mean the end.


icking through the towers that remain, it’s obvious to you that the Damen Silos haven’t gone anywhere. Today, they belong to no one. But in another sense, they belong to everyone. For a hundred years, they’ve been here. They’ve been here longer than Willis Tower or Wrigley Field. They’ve suffered countless blasts. The city around them rises and falls and rises again, but the silos stand still. A point of convergence in a world of chaos. To teenagers and explorers, they’re an urban playground. To Binford, they’re a “museum piece,” an artifact of a technological system long gone, a system that once made Chicago feel like it ruled the world. To Mahoney, they’re a symbol of the old city; a memorial to Chicago’s gold-hued heyday as the industrial capital of agrarian America. A lot has changed. Grain is stored in truly fireproof containers now. Michael Bay is making a documentary on poaching elephants. The Transformers franchise is up to its seventh installation. The Santa Fe railroad still ships grain, but you probably know it as the Metra. The industrial world was born and replaced with something faster, something less flammable. The graffiti-torn ruins that stubble the south branch have become relics. Relics that have suffered through eras of film, factory and flame. Only ten floors remain standing. Only ten floors – but countless stories.


What the Hell are the Digital Humanities? Exploring future frontiers in the arts and sciences. WRITTEN BY MILAN POLK DESIGNED BY ANDIE LINKER ILLUSTRATION BY EMMA SARAPPO


he bright reds, blues and greens of City Sounds appeared on a wall in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood in 1973. The mural, sponsored by the Community Arts Foundation and the Chicago Board of Education, depicts the haunting sirens of a fire truck, a construction worker handling a deafening jackhammer, a train whirring by and a woman – wide-eyed and open-mouthed – taking in the city’s commotion. City Sounds is one of hundreds of murals catalogued by art historian Georg Stahl in the 1970s. Inspired by Stahl’s work, Northwestern Art and Art History Professor Rebecca Zorach, who participated in the 2016 Kaplan Digital Humanities summer workshop, is digitizing murals across Chicago in the hopes of modernizing and expanding Stahl’s project. In the first-year seminar she led last winter, Zorach created an interactive map detailing the Chicago murals. She codified Latinx murals in Pilsen, those depicting different phases of black power movements and even a few centered on children. Users can zoom in on pictures of each piece to view every paint stroke. She also had freshmen use the Knight Lab’s Story Map – where users can plot a point on a map, and add pictures, videos and text – to present each sites’ significance, and view locations and details on each mural. Zorach originally found the information via a detailed spreadsheet, but she thought she could do more with it. “I knew if we could search, using the map, by artist, date, subject matter or keyword, that we could discover new patterns,” she says. With instruction from Kaplan’s Digital Humanities summer workshop, Zorach integrated her research into the classroom.


On Oct. 5, 2012, 60 Northwestern students and faculty crammed themselves into the narrow conference room at the Kaplan Institute for the Humanities to listen to Gender Studies Professor Jillana Enteen and History Professor Michael Kramer speak about a growing field that would ultimately change how faculty worked with the humanities in the classroom and in research. “Everyone wanted to figure out what it was,” says Enteen. She and Kramer provided recommended readings and links to blogs and essays on the subject to build on their presentation. Digital humanities involves the integration of technological tools with traditional humanities research. Kramer and Enteen founded the Northwestern Digital Humanities Lab (NUDHL). NUDHL is a group effort involving faculty, graduate students, technologists and librarians to bring technology into the humanities. Faculty can take a two-week summer workshop with Digital Humanities Librarian Josh Honn to learn new ways to incorporate technology into their various disciplines. Year round, NUDHL is a place to share the work and incorporate new ideas into undergraduate classes. Enteen says the goal is to allow humanities scholars to change presentation and discussion of humanities research. Six years later, NUDHL and the summer workshops inspire faculty members to bring digital tools into their undergraduate classrooms and research. The results dazzle: a digital walking tour of ancient Rome, an online exhibition of multiethnic poetry and Wildwords, a collaborative encyclopedia of Northwestern-centric dialect to explain words like Norbucks or Hobartian.

In a small classroom in Kresge this February, Enteen sits reading off bits of paper from her students’ exercise with Honn. The 10 or so students have written down what comes to mind when they see the word ‘cloud.’ A chuckle makes its way around the room when they hear Enteen say: “startup.” But that’s what Honn wanted; it’s a metaphor for the students to consider the language people use and the possible connections that exist among different ideas and words. He then flips to a slide with a picture of one of Apple’s iCloud farms: gray buildings covered in solar panels with pipes pumping out nothing close to white, marshmallow clouds. Enteen diligently takes notes on her computer in a document titled, “Josh Wisdom.” Enteen’s research focuses on cultures of the internet (in the past she’s taught classes with titles like ‘CyberQueer’ and ‘Imagining the Internet’) and she likes to think she has worked on digital humanities since before the name existed. NUDHL’s co-founder Michael Kramer, has also worked heavily with technology and its relationship to the humanities. In the past, the two talked with envy about what other institutions had done, like Loyola University Chicago, which has had a digital humanities master’s program since 2011. Enteen and Kramer wanted to bring the digital humanities to Northwestern. With encouragement from Northwestern’s graduate program, they created NUDHL. “We started seeing in job applications that graduate students need digital humanities experience. There was no way for that experience to happen at Northwestern,” Enteen says. Rather than leaving Northwestern with a history and English degree and only knowing how to write a paper, Enteen and Kramer pushed for humanities majors to learn how to create web projects from research. With the digital humanities, a paper on international Shakespeare performances and interpretations becomes “Shakespeare’s Circuit,” an interactive world map detailing

each performance with an accompanying essay. The digital humanities breathes life into research and teaches students different ways to present materials. Northwestern is one of six universities from the greater Chicago area involved in the Chicago Colloquium on Digital Humanities and Computer Science, an annual academic conference where professors share ideas and discuss new ways to combine digital tools with the humanities. “Someone from Loyola came up here and made an effort and asked why are [we] all doing the same thing alone?” Enteen says. The colloquium started in 2006, with each university rotating as host. Academics shuffle around conference rooms, listening to talks about individual projects. Each year, the host institution creates a website to present all of the discussion from before, during and after the event. Enteen hopes the digital humanities will continue to grow at Northwestern. NUDHL’s speakers and events have long interested faculty and graduate students; even undergraduates now attend the events that go on during the academic year. “I see a lot more opportunities every year for undergraduates. There are a lot more faculty and graduate students who are not scared of the digital humanities and want to share it,” Enteen says. She believes students have no excuse when it comes to incorporating technology into their learning experience. After attending Kaplan’s workshop, Zorach learned new ways to approach material with her students, who eventually assisted with the interactive website for her Chicago murals project. The students surprised Zorach with their creativity, their ability to learn and use new technology and their general enthusiasm. “My favorite part was working with students,” Zorach says, “I thought I knew the collection and the interface pretty well, but [the students] came up with ideas and approaches within the mural that I couldn’t have come up with.”


A step-by-step guide to painting The Rock, featuring New Student and Family Programs. PHOTOS BY LETA DICKINSON and BRIAN QUISTBERG, DESIGNED BY EMMA KUMER


GUARD THE ROCK. (AS IF SOMEONE COULD STEAL IT.) Tradition holds that The Rock can only be painted in the dead of night, so for a full 24 hours, stand guard. And be sure to bring That One Tent that everybody rents from Norris.


MAKE LIKE A NAIL ARTIST AND START WITH A BASE COAT. The Rock (and surrounding wall, if you want to annoy Facilities) must be covered in a fresh coat of paint. Keep it thin or it’ll never dry. INSERT YOUR CATCHY TITLE. The rock has been a canvas for birthday messages, jokes, student activism and promotions. SESP junior Isabel Hoffman says she painted The Rock to promote peer advisor applications. “We tried to come up with something simple, eyecatching and fun.”


4 30

ROCK AND ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES. Be ready to change your Rock painting plans. It probably won’t look like what you originally had in mind. More likely than not, you’ll have to make snap decisions — simplify the design here, change the color there.


CHECK IT OFF YOUR NORTHWESTERN BUCKET LIST. You did it! You made it through 24 hours and what was likely a tedious painting experience. Bonus points if it was winter. According to Hoffman, “that experience of being miserably cold, trying to avoid getting paint on ourselves, and creating some parts of the design on the spot really brought us closer together.”

Getting down to the true true story of what happened between Stevens, Tillery – and maybe the FBI. WRITTEN BY JASON MAST


To read the full text of this story, visit http:// apps.northbynorthwestern.com/magazine/2018/ winter/features/jackie-stevens/index.html

To read the full text of this story, visit http:// apps.northbynorthwestern.com/magazine/2018/ winter/features/jackie-stevens/index.html



To read the full text of this story, visit http:// apps.northbynorthwestern.com/magazine/2018/ winter/features/jackie-stevens/index.html


To read the full text of this story, visit http:// apps.northbynorthwestern.com/magazine/2018/ winter/features/jackie-stevens/index.html


To read the full text of this story, visit http:// apps.northbynorthwestern.com/magazine/2018/ winter/features/jackie-stevens/index.html


EVANSTON’S IDENTITY CRISIS The city approaches new heights – at the cost of its most vulnerable residents and businesses. WRITTEN BY MOLLY GLICK DESIGNED BY AINE DOUGHERTY


sha Sawhney* hates suburbs. Evanston, she says, is the exception. She grew up in a bright yellow Victorian on one of the city’s lush streets, where precious historic homes hide between swaths of aged trees. “Coexist” signs adorn manicured lawns; it’s the sort of neighborhood you’d expect to see in a John Hughes movie. Sawhney once belonged to those shrill throngs of kids traipsing around Evanston, wandering through Barnes & Noble and World Market until managers toss them out: a suburban rite-of-passage. Now, less than a mile from home, she is finishing her final year at Northwestern. On campus, she watches students judge her terra firma. In fact, Sawhney says the majority of her peers get Evanston wrong. It isn’t just home to SoulCycle groupies and pressed juice zealots. There’s a lot happening right under students’ noses, she says.

“The part of town that Northwestern students equate with Evanston is so miniscule. Downtown is not the only business center,” Sawhney says. “I also feel like a lot of them have the impression that this is a 95 percent white town, which is absolutely not true.” Today, the sites behind some of Sawhney’s favorite childhood romps no longer exist. Evanston is changing at the expense of its historically diverse population of students, middle-class families and residents living below the poverty line. The city, it seems, is shifting away from affordability, becoming yet another upscale, homogeneous suburb. You can see it in the rising rents, new luxury apartments and fad businesses. In these changes, Evanston stands to lose the social consciousness that shaped Sawhney and other students into vocal activists and its status as an education haven for low-income families.

Just an L ride from Chicago, Evanston has long attracted wealthier professionals. In recent years, though, financial disparity has grown considerably. The portion of households in the top income bracket (≥ $200,000) grew from 13.2 percent in 2011 to 14.6 percent in 2016, according to the U.S. Census. Evanston’s share of top earners has increased at an even faster rate than Winnetka, an old money suburb nearby. The GINI index, which measures income inequality by area, reveals that Evanston’s levels were consistently higher than the national rate between 2011 and 2015. At the same time, rent is on the rise. As of 2014, Evanston’s highest rent bracket in the U.S. census was $1,500 or more per month. The following year, the maximum doubled to $3,000 or more. Also between 2011 and 2015, the share of households in Evanston’s highest rent bracket grew from 25 percent to 33 percent of the town’s total units. Even in their relative isolation, Northwestern students observe the resulting tensions. Businesses seem more hostile to students and homeless individuals. Sawhney composed a popular Facebook manifesto admonishing Kafein’s $3 sitting fee and Cupitol’s stringent laptop regulations: computers are limited to two specific tables, as well as a few couches, on Fridays, Saturdays and holidays between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. “Cupitol represents this weird crisis that the new Evanston businesses are having,” Sawhney says. “They want to model trendy Chicago spaces and they don’t want to bridge themselves with the fact that they’re in a university town.” Evanston’s growing pains are most visible in the ceaseless flow of newly announced and rejected proposals: Towering apartments like the 15-story Albion, approved by the City Council last November, and the proposed 36-story Northlight Theatre project could reshape the landscape of Sherman Avenue and Evanston as Sawhney knows it.

The developments target a compelling new Evanston demographic: millennial parents who commute to Chicago, delaying the traditional relocation to roomier suburbs around the city (the spacious planned development in Naperville with a sprawling yard for the Golden Retriever just have to wait). Evanston City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says buildings like The Albion may be pursuing this specific consumer with their appeals to convenience and luxury amenities. But these projects risk moving affordable housing out of downtown Evanston, even though the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance requires developers to either supply affordable units or donate to the affordable housing fund. Alderman Eleanor Revelle (7th) says developers generally prefer the latter option, meaning that affordable housing remains sectioned off in traditionally lower-income wards. Meanwhile, wealthier residents can pick from a growing number of real estate options in the same area. Asha’s father, Kellogg Professor Mohanbir Sawhney, considered downsizing and renting a condo at the upscale 1717 Ridge Avenue complex built in 2013. The building is emblematic of Evanston’s luxury condo boom, with amenities like a fitness center and valet dry cleaning fulfilling the idyllic millennial lifestyle in one neat, lavish package. When he saw the price of nearly $2,000 a month, though, he reconsidered. “I’m a little concerned about this highdensity housing and student apartments being built,” Professor Sawhney says. “It’s becoming very expensive to live here and it’s going to hurt Evanston in the long run.” New luxury developments focus on faculty and graduate students, if anything, Professor Sawhney says. He points to the example of The Park Evanston and the E2 Apartments, and he notes that graduate students, unlike undergraduates, are often financially independent. “I actually shake my head sometimes,” Professor Sawhney says. “My students



If you’re looking for somewhere to grab lunch, you can rely on 618 1/2 Church Street... but no promises it will be the same restaurant as your last visit. This address has called quite a few restaurants home, hosting everything from Mexican to Jamaican cuisine, from sustainable and organic to purely fast food. ILLUSTRATIONS BY EMMA SARAPPO

pursuing an M.B.A. and paying $120,000 in tuition for two years are living in a $2,000 a month apartment, but they’re not working. I guess they can afford it.” Undergraduates, for the most part, can’t afford it. Even managers for reasonably affordable buildings have been known to fleece students. Lauren Lee Place, a junior, opted for an apartment on Hinman Avenue, living among families and older residents (and their dogs). This year she and her roommate received a notice from their new management urging them to leave the apartment before their current lease ends. In the notice, the company mentioned it could terminate her lease early, without fees. “We got an eviction letter, essentially, but it was worded very graciously,” Place says. The new management, she says, will not add to the square footage of the units but will install hardwood floors and new appliances. They will also divide one of the rooms, converting it into a threebedroom. These minor upgrades will cause a rent hike of about $400, which means Place will have to return to the Evanston apartment hunt and find another apartment. Despite consistent rent increases, Sawhney has lived in the same building since her sophomore year. Unlike Place’s landlord, she never received an explaination for the rising price. Sawhney chalks it up to a negligible kitchen renovation. “My rent keeps going up every year, which is really frustrating because I have stayed in the same place,” Sawhney says.

2003 - 2007

“Then we joked that maybe this is why they hike the rent up $75 a year. At least we get nicer cabinets.” As Evanston rents soar, though, Northwestern has pledged to recruit more low-income students. The University joined the American Talent Initiative in January 2018, an organization that hopes to graduate 50,000 lower-income students at participating schools by 2025. Northwestern President Morton Schapiro has oft-repeated his goal to welcome a 20 percent Pell-eligible freshman class by 2020. But how will a growing number of financially-assisted students find affordable off-campus housing as upperclassmen? Both Tony Kirchmeier, Northwestern’s director of off-campus life, and Ald. Revelle claim that supply and demand will keep prices down, especially after the reveal of Northwestern’s recent two-year live-in requirement. Revelle says that units previously occupied by sophomores, such as houses in the Maple Avenue neighborhood, could potentially become available at cheaper rates. “If you increase the supply of housing it helps meet demand, so prices in existing units do not increase,” Revelle says. “You give people with more money options for units that they can afford.” Kirchmeier says Northwestern will provide over 300 new beds in residential halls next fall to aid the live-in requirement. “Supply and demand can make costs more competitive ultimately. What does it look like with 300 fewer students living off campus?” Kirchmeier says. “There’s going to be greater

2007 - 2009

vacancies. If Northwestern students don’t take [them], does that mean employees from downtown Chicago will do the commute back and forth? Does that mean more people moving in to the city of Evanston?” Northwestern students won’t be the only people struggling to find reasonable rents. As City Council authorizes massive developments, they haven’t agreed on solutions to provide housing for “costchallenged residents.” Ald. Revelle defines this category as people who spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing, the maximum amount determined for someone also setting money aside for basic needs. “Our main problem is we don’t have the resources to do everything that we would like and need to do,” Revelle says. “How should we allocate the scarce amount of resources we do have to the various types of programs?” Yet the affordable units lost to new luxury projects ensure that lower-income individuals cannot live among Evanston’s more privileged residents, nor benefit from the conveniences they are afforded. “We want some of those affordable units to be downtown because it’s a desirable, transitoriented place to live,” Revelle says. “In addition to providing affordable housing, we need to make sure it can be found in all parts of Evanston and not just one or two segregated parts of our community.” She says that middle-income families also require programs tailored to their needs. For the Chicago metropolitan area, that qualifying income is at or below $74,900 for a family of four, according to Evanston’s 2009

2009 - 2011

2012 - 2015

Plan for Affordable Housing. Households that don’t meet this requirement are overlooked, Revelle says, and must face the city’s expensive housing market. It doesn’t help that Northwestern may be indirectly displacing such families, too. In the first and fifth wards that surround campus, Ald. Revelle says investors will buy out homes once occupied by middle-class residents in order to market them to students. “It’s changing the character of those communities quite a bit,” Revelle says. “I think there’s the feeling that if you made it so investors could make even more money on those houses ... it would accelerate the change in that neighborhood.”

On a weekend at the Celtic Knot Public House, you may witness students downing their first legal pint or the appendages of a raucous Northwestern theatre cast party. The nearby tables are home to meetings of the Evanston’s Fourth of July Committee, the Kiwanis Club and a Northwestern critical theory discussion group, among others. A few couples who met at The Knot have hosted their rehearsal dinners here. “We would like to think that we have become a center for the community,” says co-owner Liz Bartlow Breslin. We talk at 4 p.m., so she sips an iced tea while the single bar-goer nurses his beer. She speaks in a cautiously hushed tone, despite the absence of anything resembling a crowd, selecting her words deftly. She doesn’t want to offend any of her friends, who seem to form a tightly knit network of Evanston business owners.

2017 -



When I mention the standard Evanston government explanation behind the recent housing and restaurant boom – the delayed recovery from the 2008 recession – her brow furrows. She says that, in reality, she sees high-end businesses receive more city support than independent ones. “I’m thinking the balance is tilting a little bit towards a less liveable and inclusive place,” Breslin says. “It’s very expensive to have a business in Evanston, particularly in downtown Evanston.” Breslin and her husband Patrick are the team behind what students affectionately call The Knot. In 2005, they decided that Evanston simply needed a pub. Patrick hails from Ireland and makes sure to incorporate the elements of the classic public house he grew up with, like storytelling and live music. When Breslin attended Northwestern, she saw an even greater void: it was hard to find a place to grab a beer. “I graduated in ‘87. Back in that time, the town had just come off of being dry,” Breslin says. “When I was there, there was no reason to go anywhere in the city. Heaven knows there is now!” The Knot is just one of Evanston’s hallowed small businesses. Breslin attributes an intimate link between treasured Evanston restaurants to entrepreneur Steven Prescott, whose obituary she carries in her wallet. After two failed Chicago restaurants, Prescott ventured to Evanston and found success with Davis Street Fishmarket in 1985. But he truly cemented his presence in 1990 with Tommy Nevin’s Pub, which he named after his Irish grandfather. Soon, The Albion at Evanston will take its place. “When we heard Nevin’s was closing, people were like ‘Oh my god, you must be thrilled,’” Breslin says. “We’re not. That’s another good place gone.” Breslin laments the demise of independent businesses as chains and upscale ventures continue their migration to Evanston. Both Target and Floyd’s 99 Barbershop will launch on Sherman Avenue this spring. Meanwhile, Midwest liquor giant Binny’s Beverage Depot covets 1111 Chicago Avenue, the former home of Whole Foods. Existing alcohol licenses don’t fit Binny’s new model and location, says Vinic Wine Co. manager Sandeep Ghaey. Though city officials may allow the business to dedicate a greater portion of the 20,000-squarefoot space to selling alcohol than previous permits allowed. “It’s unfortunate that the city finds it necessary to write new variances for large


companies. They’re so stringent with our smaller companies,” Ghaey says. “A large company is allowed to have one customtailored for them.”

Over 2,000 miles from Evanston, Stanford University sophomore Brian Contreras is stuck in a bubble. The “Stanford Bubble,” he calls it. Contreras avoids the ironically-titled University Avenue in Palo Alto because he and his peers can’t even afford to window shop. He says Stanford students prefer to trek to San Jose, a 20-minute car ride to the south, or venture 30 miles north to San Francisco because the town immediately in their sightline is basically off-limits. At least the administration recognizes that Palo Alto is so pricey, he says, but that’s mostly because the school created this discordant market. “Stanford is part of the reason it’s expensive in the first place, just because of the tech boom and the startup culture that Stanford helped facilitate in Silicon Valley has pushed a lot of lower-class people out of Palo Alto,” Contreras says. Evanston is no Silicon Valley and Northwestern is no Stanford. People needn’t confront hordes of self-driving cars. But Northwestern might still impact Evanston in ways we don’t realize. Professor Sawhney says Northwestern produces a “peculiar” micro-economy in the surrounding community. Since the University doesn’t pay property taxes, taxes are high compared to nearby towns like Skokie. “Evanston and Northwestern are joined at the hip,” Professor Sawhney says. “The economic impact of the University is far-reaching.” Unlike peer universities like the University of Chicago or the University of Pennsylvania, Northwestern isn’t smack in the middle of a major city. It isn’t isolated like Urbana-Champaign either; instead, it’s a coveted distance from Chicago. All of these factors combine to make Evanston uniquely expensive, especially for lowerincome residents. Most likely, it’s going to get worse. Evanston could become hostile to independent businesses – and with little progress in affordable housing to any homeowner struggling to make ends meet. The new federal tax plan, Professor Sawhney says, will hurt residents. Increased property taxes will serve as a disincentive to own property, on top of a now non-deductible Illinois income tax. “Evanston is forced to squeeze the

residents for all of the taxes,” Professor Sawhney says. “People like me are left holding the bag.”

Sawhney’s compulsory after-school taco spot from her Evanston Township High School days closed her freshman year at Northwestern. She says she visited Aguas Tortas several times a week, one of the few Mexican-owned restaurants in Evanston. “The fish tacos were really good,” Sawhney says. “None of this Frontera crap.” Now the fashionably healthy fast-casual Viet Nom Nom sits in its place, one of the numerous incarnations of 618 Church St. over the past five years. Breslin, next door at The Knot, has witnessed this firsthand. Thai Sookdee, a family favorite where Sawhney satisfied her Pad Khee Mao and watermelon fruit freeze cravings, shuttered in December 2016 after a run of over 25 years. In the fall of 2016, The Barn surfaced alongside it, featuring soothing Edison bulbs, exposed brick and bespoke cocktails. Sawhney is concerned about the young professional demographic that these spaces lust after. “All these young couples are wealthy and white or Asian,” she says. “I’m worried that will shift the diversity.” Sawhney thinks Evanston’s diversity a vital part of her own narrative. She learned from her classmates and antiracist organizing at Evanston Township High School and she says that community activism at ETHS felt more substantial than what she has observed in typical suburbs. “Actually having to wrestle with the fact that you have privilege over people you lived right alongside your whole life really informed a lot of us,” she says. “The privilege that two people can grow up in the same place and have completely different outcomes was not abstract.” She credits the work of taxes on wealthy families to fund education for low-income students, some who have left Chicago to find high-quality public schools. The fact that the privileged New Trier High School and ETHS provide comparable education and resources, she says, is incredible. “If the income level shifts more to just one direction, what I think is a beautiful system of redistribution is not going to continue,” Sawhney says. “I would hate to see people get edged out because of these fancy buildings that only Kellogggraduate couples can afford.” *Asha Sawhney previously contributed to North by Northwestern.


but Make it Small How nanoscience transformed Northwestern. WRITTEN BY ELISSA GRAY, DESIGNED BY ANDIE LINKER and EMMA KUMER


n the blitz of North Campus, Ryan Hall would hardly stand out if it weren’t for the picture of Nobel Prize winner Sir Fraser Stoddart pasted onto the front door. Inside this tan building, between the endless rows of windows, Northwestern is leading the way in nanoscience – the study of the miniscule. One of the many scientists involved in the charge is Chad Mirkin, who directs the International Institute of Nanotechnology (IIN), a collaboration between some 240 experts with backgrounds from biology and engineering to physics and business. Despite the frenetic activity of his lab, Mirkin is surprisingly relaxed: he’s wearing a Blackhawks quarter-zip and jokes between questions about his desire to gamble in Las Vegas. Today, Mirkin is showing me a nanoscale printer, a project he’s been working on since 1999, the year before he founded the IIN. It’s made up of thousands of tiny pens working in unison, so miniature that Mirkin keeps a macroscopic

model of it on his coffee table. But calling them pens is a mistake. They’re actually atomic force microscopes – AFMs for short – and they work on any surface, not just paper. This is all happening on the nanoscale, too, making the AFM the world’s smallest writing instrument. When they work in “I want to do unison, like in Mirkin’s everything 3D printer, they can even I possibly create tiny circuits for can to not electronics. Mirkin says just make his invention will have chemistry applications in any sector, great, but from medicine to optics. to make Behind his nanoscale the whole University printer are shelves of great.” awards, plaques and other accolades. But his work, whether in nanolithography or developing microtools to treat conditions like brain cancer, is about more than recognition. “I want to do everything I possibly can to not just make chemistry great, but to make the whole University great,” Mirkin says. “I bleed purple.”


When most students mention the Northwestern chemistry department, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t Mirkin’s nanolithography, but Lyrica, a drug developed by Dr. Richard Silverman to treat a number of conditions, including fibromyalgia, epilepsy and seizures. Today, Lyrica is in the NU legendarium less for its medical significance than the incredible amount of money Pfizer, the company that markets and manufactures the drug, brings to campus. Today, Lyrica profits account for 18 percent of the University’s endowment. That money has allowed Northwestern to make some serious investments in new building staff and technology, but it’s not the whole story. To get that, you have to go back to 1989, when Silverman was nearing the end of his 15-year study on chemicals in the brain and was in the process of creating the billion-dollar drug. Mirkin and Henry Bienen, the former president of Northwestern, took a risk: beginning construction on the IIN. At that point, few universities were interested in

zoom in! Over the years, NU nanotech has come out with pretty important contributions. Let’s break it down!

nanotechnology, but in 2000, the getting federal funds from the Clinton administration launched National Science Foundation the $497 million National and the National Institutes Nanotechnology Initiative, which of Health, a signal that there brought significant attention to would be longer-term support the field. The announcement for the IIN’s nanoscience and coincided with the completion of engineering research. While the scope of support the IIN, at a point when Mirkin and the Institute’s original faculty certainly surprised everyone, were just coming to terms with Mirkin had been looking for the idea that they had something a breakthrough like this since joining NU. He says the University truly special on their hands. had trailed behind “Northwestern almost other elite schools like came out of the blue Stanford, Princeton and and it was significant “The science MIT because they had a investment from the matters, but so administration and do the people, late start. “You can’t reset time spectacular talent here and that’s what can make the – you can’t be first in that enabled that to difference between a chemistry and in physics happen,” says Teri Odom, good chemistry and biology and the an associate chair of the department and established disciplines,” chemistry department, a great one.” he says. “But you can who joined Northwestern be first in a field like in 1999, the same year nanotechnology.” the IIN launched. “We Dr. Samuel Stupp serves as the weren’t the first ones to come up with the term ‘nanoscience,’ but Director of the Simpson Querrey we were some of the first ones to Institute for BioNanotechnology (SQI), established in 2000 with the do something with it.” Northwestern had established goal of combining nanoscience the first institute of its kind and medicine. He agrees that in the U.S. – and Clinton’s timing was crucial to elevating initiative was only the beginning. Northwestern’s status – if Mirkin Odom says the school started hadn’t convinced Bienen to create

Regenerative medicine

The process of replacing, engineering or regenerating human cells, tissues or organs.

Theranostic particles

Combining diagnostic and therapeutic capabilities into a single nanoparticle.


NU develops nanoimaging, and therape for medic


-scale lasers, eutic probes cal purposes.

the IIN when he did, the “It’s a funny rebranding, University would likely but it is a rebranding that have missed its chance “Our research has worked.” to take a leading role here is as good as the research in nanotech. “The best There’s a floor to that’s done at approach to be a leader in ceiling window on the Harvard and Stanford. We a specific area of scientific east wall of Odom’s office just have to research is to be the first in Ryan Hall. The glass work at that branding and one to initiate it and that faces a courtyard, and perception was very much the case when the sun streams issue.” for Northwestern.” Stupp in at just the right angle, says. “We were pioneers the whole room lights up. in that regard – we took Bathed in sunlight are a specific interest in the field and not just plaques and trophies, but the department of chemistry was pieces of art – abstract paintings, instrumental in this.” photographs of flowers and an The irony is that nanoscience ornate orange frog – that make the isn’t really a novel idea, but space feel less technical and more a synthesis of many fields free-spirited. of study, including material Odom is petite, with a short science, chemistry, medicine and pixie cut to match her height. biomedical engineering. And Northwestern hired her when she Northwestern was hardly the only was still a graduate student, which university to have strong programs is practically unheard of; the normal in all these areas, even if it was the route to almost becoming a professor first to take a specific interest. It is from Ph.D. to postdoctoral was actually the marketing of the training and then to interviewing IIN that carried the day. for positions at universities. It’s an “Nanotechnology is sort of a impressive feat for anyone, but strange subject because it just especially for a woman working means chemistry. All chemistry is in a department that has been nanotechnology – molecules are historically male-dominated. When on the nanoscale,” says Dr. Emily she joined, she was just the second Weiss, a professor of chemisty. woman at the IIN.

Spherical nucleic acids

Using nanoparticles, DNA can be changed from a double helix into a spherical shape with the potential to treat a wide range of diseases.

“The way that we’ve been trained up, even starting with high school, there were never really many women in the class so it was normal,” Odom says. “When you go to college, it’s still normal that you’re just a minority part of the population in class.” But Odom changed, even if it was marginal, what counted as “normal” within Northwestern’s chemistry department and the IIN by becoming the first woman to climb the ranks from assistant to associate to full professor. Now, 18 years after joining Northwestern, the dynamics of hiring are changing for the better. “The good news is we’ve made some systematic changes so that we’re able to hire more and diversify the faculty … You can always recruit, but I think it’s always better when your own people that you hire and train up from the very beginning are successful.” In many ways, Odom’s personal success mirrors the achievements of Northwestern in nanoscience. Since 2000, the IIN has done more than establish itself as a premier nanotechnology center. The work that Northwestern has accomplished in the field has

Dip-pen nanolithography printer

A collection of atomic force microscope tips used to mark nano-scale surfaces.

what is

nanotechnology? All of these words can get pretty confusing, so let’s break them down. Nanomedicine Using tiny devices to learn how the body works. NanoOncology Diagnosing and treating cancer with nano devices. Molecular Electronics Using molecular biology to create electronic components. Nanoenergy Improving existing energy technologies through components smaller than 100 nanometers. *for scale, one virus particle is 100 nanometers in width.

Environmental Nanotechnology Using nanotechnology to address problems such as water pollution, oil spills and chemical pollutants. Food and water Nanotechnology can help us grow more food while wasting less energy and water, among other key natural resources. Security and Defense Nanotechnology can detect toxins at the atomic level allowing scientists to develop new defense technology.

spurred the creation of 21 start-up companies, measuring over $700 million in venture capital funding and more than 2,000 associated nanotech patents. Northwestern’s chemistry department is now ranked as one of the best chemistry programs in the world, largely due to the IIN’s achievements. The department has attracted esteemed faculty from around the country: Sir Fraser Stoddart, who won the Nobel Prize in 2016 for his creation of molecular machines, came to Northwestern in 2007 because of IIN’s history of success. Profits from Lyrica allowed Northwestern to afford Stoddart, and the collaborative approach among professors working at the forefront of scientific discovery sealed the deal. With its list of star-studded faculty, one of the things that makes Northwestern so prosperous are these connections. From chemistry fundamentals to an understanding of engineering and physics, Odom says the IIN’s projects rely on a combination of knowledge and unique skill sets. Therefore, almost all of the projects coming out of the IIN involve experts from across a variety of disciplines. This research method, emphasizing teamwork and partnerships, is central to the department’s ethos and continues to set Northwestern apart from its peer institutions. “Harvard has what I would call a silo mentality where the faculty don’t talk to each other,” Odom says. “Similarly, at Stanford, there was one woman faculty member in chemistry, and I figured, ‘Why would I want to go into an occupation that’s hostile?’” In short, the science matters, but so do the people, and that’s what can make the difference between a

good chemistry department and a great one.” As for questions about the future, Mirkin has a knack for bringing things back to his tagline: “Everything old becomes new when miniaturized.” The six-word phrase is fitting considering how his work and that of the IIN has had an impact across the entire state of Illinois. The state has become a hotspot for the study of matter and molecules, ranking fourth in the U.S. for its chemistry research output. There are no signs of progress slowing down, either. Mirkin, along with Chinese Academy of Sciences Professor Lei Jiang, will receive the 2018 Nano Research Award later this year. The award recognizes his advances in nanolithography along with his research focused on producing and restructuring DNA into spherical nucleic acids. This research has been going on since 1996, when Mirkin and his team discovered that attaching nanoparticles, like that of gold, to strands of DNA can alter its behavior. The DNA changes from the traditional double helix to a new, spherical shape. New shapes may sound fun, but what’s really exciting is what they can do. These spherical nucleic acids – what Mirkin calls “velcro balls” because of their adhesiveness – can act as spies in the human body. Normally, cells reject any type of foreign DNA, which includes the manufactured DNA that researchers are trying to use to treat and cure diseases. But these velcro balls aren’t seen as foreign, allowing them to form the cellular secret forces

and infiltrate the body’s cells. The manipulations that can be made on the cellular level lead to improvements in treatments for skin disorders, and bowel and bladder cancers. “We now have multiple drugs in clinical trials being tested on humans, so we are about four or five years from launching the first drugs based upon spherical nucleic acids,” Mirkin says, meaning that new success could be bringing in money to the University within the next decade. Mirkin is not the only researcher making strides in the field of nanoscience. Odom and her research group manipulate the shape and lengths of various structures that arrange in a hierarchy. These three-dimensional, multi-scale structures can exist as different sizes at the same time. Think of it like a set of Russian nesting dolls – they are all the same structure, but they grow in size with each level, creating a hierarchy of sorts. Despite growth in the past two decades and the achievements in nanoscience, the University is still an underdog in some respects. But just as the journey in nanoscience began with a choice of branding, increasing Northwestern’s reputation is all a matter of perspective. “We need to pay close attention to the way we present ourselves on the outside,” Stupp says. “Our research here is as good as the research that’s done at Harvard and Stanford. We just have to work at that branding and perception issue.” Mirkin, on the other hand,

already sees that transformation in reputation. “I always tell people that your degree today is worth a lot more than it was 25 years ago. This place is tougher to get into and it’s got a brand known now around the world,” he says. “I just came from Saudi Arabia last week and the head of a big institute over there, Jean Fréchet, said, ‘You know, I think Northwestern chemistry has now risen to the top.’” Either way, there is always room to expand reputation – and there’s time to do so, because nanoscience isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. “Different subfields come and go; different fads kick into fashion and then are passed over. But that won’t happen with nanotech because it can impact almost everything that we do,” Mirkin says. “Anywhere that we need new materials, new structures, nanotech is gonna play a role.” In the nanoscale, all that is old becomes new – and the story of Northwestern’s chemistry department is not just about Lyrica, or Mirkin and Odom and Stupp. It’s just beginning, with the stroke of a nanoscale quill pen and the work of countless people working together. “There is no individual that is really the main driver of anything that goes on here,” Mirkin says. “You get really talented students, postdocs, faculty; put them in an environment where they’ve got the resources, and the sky’s the limit.”

Everything old becomes new when miniaturized.




“It’s about time!” That’s how my best friend reacted when I revealed my attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnosis. He’d known me since I was six, and he had seen what a chatterbox I always was. He knew I would forget to raise my hand sometimes before blurting out an answer. When I wasn’t chatting away during class, I often sat quietly, immersed in my own elaborate daydream, and the next thing I knew, the class was splitting off into groups for some assignment and I’d ask, “Wait, so what are we doing?” I knew he grew tired of my constant tardiness, and I was embarrassed by my messy room, though cleaning it always seemed too overwhelming. He saw me procrastinate on projects, and he comforted me through my volatile emotions. But I had no explanation except my own shortcomings for nearly 20 years. When I went off to college, I struggled to tackle

the hours of homework before me. I sat in the library with friends, wondering how they could just sit there and write a paper without having to take breaks every five minutes for a BuzzFeed quiz. I read online that behavioral troubles and academic struggles were common symptoms of ADHD. I realized my inability to focus wasn’t normal, but I doubted I could have ADHD. My teachers often laid into me for talking too much, but I never really got in trouble. I’d always struggled to focus in school, but I still made great grades. So how could I have it? Throughout Spring Quarter, I kept telling myself I’d see a doctor, then continually put it off. Over the summer, I continued to doubt my hunch, but I finally made an appointment just before beginning school in September. I received a diagnosis for predominantly inattentive ADHD. It wasn’t exactly good

news, but I couldn’t help feeling excited at the discovery of a name for what I’d been experiencing my whole life; all of the symptoms I’d grown up with weren’t just my fault. Suddenly, I had a new identity, and it came with new medicines, stigmas, misconceptions and understandings of myself. I realized that for 19 years, I’d been navigating a world that was not built for my brain. For the past year, I’d been traversing an environment that can be especially difficult for those whose brains don’t function typically, from hours of unstructured work to intense academic competition. But I realized that I was not alone in these struggles – Northwestern is full of students like me, learning what it means to live in a world not designed for us. More specifically, I’m not the only young woman dealing with the discovery of a new diagnosis.

“In general, women get identified as having ADHD later than males do, in part because of the manifestations being different,” says Steven Zecker, associate professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders in the School of Communication. Boys with ADHD more commonly display high levels of hyperactivity, and these are the cases that are typically identified in early childhood. Girls are more likely to have the inattentive symptoms of ADHD, which tend to be identified later. The less visible

Northwestern. “A lot of the things that people with ADHD struggle with, like organization, are things that are coded as feminine,” she says. “So when you struggle with them, people just assume that it has something to do with not being feminine enough or is somehow a character flaw and not something that is disordered.” Diamond, who has been out as gay since she was 16, has acutely felt the stigma of not being feminine enough. Alison May, Assistant Dean of Students and director of AccessibleNU, also noted the

same opportunity to find out whether or not they have learning disabilities given economic status, where they went to school, resources, et cetera,” she says. “I feel like I’m pretty alone in terms of that space, feeling like not a lot of people that look like me have an LD [learning disability].” Diamond’s experience with ADHD and its intersection with her other identities has influenced her career and education decisions. After learning about the way her brain works, she decided to major in human



symptoms that fall under the inattentive category are more difficult for parents and teachers to notice, so many girls are not diagnosed until later in life. According to a January 18 report from the Centers and for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of privately insured U.S. women ages 15-44 who filled a prescription for medication to treat ADHD increased 344 percent between 2003 and 2015; and this increase was largest for women in their late 20s and early 30s. I am one of these women. When I realized how different it looked to have predominantly inattentive ADHD, it all made sense. Although you might have found me shaking my leg or twirling my pencil in class as a kid, you were more likely to find me checked out into an extensive daydream. SESP junior Eli Diamond is also in this group – she was diagnosed with ADHD during her freshman year at

intersection of gender and disabilities. “I feel like there are so many expectations on women. We have to be that much better. It’s one thing to be equal to a man, but we have to do even more to be taken seriously in a lot of realms.” With ADHD, it’s even harder. “We’re expected to be multitaskers,” May says. “We’re so socialized to sit quietly and behave in a certain way, whereas boys are just being boys when they’re running around the classroom and standing on their desk.” Gender is not the only identity that creates disparities in ADHD diagnoses – children of color are also less likely to be diagnosed. Bobbie Burgess, a Black McCormick senior with two specific learning disorders in reading, and fluency and math, has noticed this imbalance. “African Americans aren’t necessarily all presented the

development and psychological services, and plans to go into counseling or psychology to work with people with ADHD and other disabilities after graduation. “It’s just really important to me that not all girls or kids of color have to wait until they’re 20 and struggling,” she says.

ADHD was first classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) II in 1968 as “Hyperkinetic Reaction of Childhood.” The term ADHD was first introduced in the revised edition of the DSMIII, eliminating ADD without hyperactivity. Finally, in 1994, the DSM-IV added three subtypes of ADHD – predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactiveimpulsive and combined. The DSM-V of 2013 has not changed the core criteria for diagnosing ADHD, but it added examples of what the criteria looks like in older adolescents and adults.





Awareness of less-visible symptoms has been increasing, according to Zecker. The new definition shows a better understanding of the inattentive component that tends to affect women, and the recent changes show growing emphasis on the ways in which ADHD manifests in adults. Still, misconceptions remain. The hyperactive symptoms often appear to wane, and from the outside, it may seem like the disorder has disappeared. But this isn’t the case. “You just don’t see 21-year-olds who can’t stay in their seat and are running around a classroom or a lecture,” Zecker says. “But for many individuals who have a history of overactivity, there are feelings of restlessness that are every bit as debilitating as actually doing it.” Individuals with ADHD may get better at concealing their disorder, but that doesn’t mean they’ve outgrown it. The ability to mask hyperactivity isn’t the only reason many are skeptical of ADHD. “One of the hallmarks of ADHD is that behavior varies more from minute-to-minute, day-to-day, than with other people,” Zecker says. “And I think a common misconception that people have is that the behavior is to some degree willful.” Since our behavior varies so much, we may seem more hyperactive or inattentive one day than another, and this leads to the belief that we choose when we experience these symptoms. Peers may think, “You

were fine yesterday, why are you struggling today?” I have asked myself that question countless times – why can’t I get myself to do what I know I’m capable of? But now I realize that it’s just the nature of my disorder. One day I can hyperfocus on a paper, and the next I’m struggling to write a full sentence without getting distracted. One of the most common misconceptions about ADHD is that it simply isn’t real. Skim the internet for a few minutes and you’ll find countless articles and blog posts claiming that it was invented by Big Pharma to get children addicted to drugs. Everyone can get distracted or feel hyper sometimes, so why is it a disability? It’s true that everyone gets distracted sometimes, but that’s not all ADHD is. “It’s not enough just to say, ‘Oh, all these things are problems for me.’ What can’t you do as a result of it? That’s the key,” says Lee Schwartz, a doctor and professor at the Feinberg School of Medicine who works with adults with ADHD. “Their brains are programmed differently.” The skepticism surrounding ADHD adds to the struggles that students with ADHD already face. “If people can’t see it, a lot of the time they don’t believe that it’s there, which makes access to various resources a lot more difficult,” says Scott Gerson, a SESP student who graduated in Fall 2017.

Being diagnosed as an adult came with its own unique set of stigmas and misconceptions. “It can’t be real if it took them so long to diagnose you!” “How could you have gotten into Northwestern if you had ADHD this whole time?” “You did well your first year in college. You couldn’t have ADHD!” I internalized these comments and procrastinated seeking help. Diamond also heard that she was too smart to have ADHD. “I had been tested as a kid three separate times, and every time, I was told that I was too good of a student, my grades were too good,” she says. “I would say ‘Hey, I’m struggling,’ and it would end with the doctor being like, ‘You don’t have it,’ and my mom being like ‘See, you must just be lazy.’” After being diagnosed her freshman year, she felt incredible relief. “No, actually, I’m not lazy,” she says. “I’ve just had to work twice as hard as everyone else to do half as much.” As individuals with ADHD age, their challenges become increasingly difficult. Many students, like Diamond and myself, can develop strategies to deal with our struggles as children and teenagers, but find this harder to do with the intense workload and lack of structure in college. “A big part of that is you are just so bright, and you’ve figured out really good ways of compensating,” May says. “You’ve probably had to

work twice as hard, and again, that serves you well even for a time at Northwestern,” she says. “It seems like what happens is the work just keeps piling up, and it’s not possible all of the sudden to do your assignments at the last minute because you have seven assignments due all at the same time.” Schwartz has observed similar patterns among his patients. “You’re only in class 10 or 15 hours a week, and setting a schedule can be disconcerting for somebody who has ADHD,” he says. Even for those whose ADHD was undetected in high school, the lack of structure upends traditional coping mechanisms. “This idea that learning disabilities or cognitive disabilities are only present in kids and adults who aren’t smart is a ridiculous stigma, and it’s just not true at all,” Diamond says.

Although most discussions of ADHD focus on how it affects schoolwork and classroom behavior, it pervades all aspects of life, from college parties to everyday social interactions. “I think people don’t have any concept of how much ADHD can impact one’s kind of mental health, one’s friendships, one’s social life,” May says. People with ADHD often struggle with sensory integration, which means they have trouble filtering important stimuli from unimportant stimuli. Typical college environments, like crowded basement parties, can overwhelm someone who has trouble ignoring irrelevant stimuli. “I would go to [parties] and I would have fun, but a lot of the time being in a loud room with a lot of people who I don’t know, it’s just overwhelming and kind of unpleasant,” Diamond says. Other common characteristics of ADHD, like impulsiveness and issues with time management, can cause problems with friends. “The person often is late and that irritates people because it makes them think that the other people’s time isn’t important,” Schwartz says. I used to laugh about being known as the perpetually late friend, but I still felt guilty every time I kept someone waiting with my tardiness. It always seemed like no matter how hard I tried to be punctual, my clock was running at a different pace. “They can get themselves into trouble for having said something they should have been thinking,” Schwartz

says. “Then a fight starts or they get into trouble in a social setting.” For McCormick junior Ryan Albelda, part of having ADHD has been learning to apologize. “I do interrupt people, but I’ve learned I have no shame in saying sorry,” she says. Albelda’s ADHD has affected social situations from flirting to sorority recruitment. “During sorority recruitment, actually, when women would hand me their jackets, I would play with my hands underneath their jacket,” she says. “And that’s a trick I knew and had practiced, because I don’t want people to see that I’m fidgeting, but I kinda need to do it to help myself.” Sometimes, it feels good to fidget freely and not have to worry about what people will think of your restless hands or impulsive interruptions. Albelda has found a supportive community in Eye to Eye, a mentoring group that connects college students with middle school students with ADHD and learning disabilities. Being a part of this community has helped her become more comfortable with her ADHD. “There are these moments where I meet total strangers and they have it too, and it’s like, that’s so exciting!” she says. “It’s this cool bond, and I really love that.” In spite of the challenges it creates, she’s found things to love about her brain. “I love how I get so excited about things,” she says. “If someone’s like, we’re going to a new restaurant, I’ll be like, ‘That’s so cool! Look at all the colors on the walls! If I’m all loud and crazy, that’s just who I am.”

After receiving my diagnosis , my next step was to begin medication, which came with its own set of challenges. Two of the most common side effects are loss of appetite and insomnia. For individuals with ADHD, forgetting to eat can be a common occurrence, and having a suppressed appetite doesn’t help. ADHD medication can be a double-edged sword: the drugs help your mind, but a shortage of food and sleep makes it difficult to care for your body. For me, the most difficult part was adjusting to the fact that my brain was functioning differently. It’s easy to forget while taking medicine that it’s not just giving me the ability to focus better – it’s changing my brain

chemistry. On medication, I finally felt like I was able to focus as much as my peers, and my brain was able to view the work ahead of me in a linear, taskoriented way. Yet being this way has sometimes made it difficult to transition from work to relaxation in the same way my peers do. My experience with medicine has been positive overall, but it’s never a simple process to adjust to changes in brain functioning. It’s a complex, ongoing affair that I’m still working to understand. Gerson also had a complicated experience with medication. He began taking extended release Concerta after being diagnosed with ADHD in fourth grade, and took it every day until January 1 of his sophomore year, when he decided to stop. “I didn’t feel like I was being myself,” he says. “It kind of squished a lot of my creativity out of me I felt like, and kind of dulled me. I was taking it more to appease other people and to not annoy people than I was for my own wellbeing, and so I decided to stop doing that. And then I had to readjust my expectations after I stopped taking meds for what life would be like and what constituted normal.” May has seen the students she works with struggle with these nuances. She describes a “cost benefit that I think most individuals with ADHD have to weigh every time they decide to take one of the pills.” That’s something recreational users of stimulants don’t have to consider. Many students likely hear more about ADHD medication than the disorder itself. Stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin are known for making people hyperactive, shaky and awake for hours. Abuse of these “study drugs” is a common occurrence on college campuses.



But according to Schwartz, stimulants typically have a calming effect on those with ADHD. “It has the reverse effect because it’s being used on someone who truly needs it as opposed to somebody who just needs the stimulant effect to stay awake,” he says. The stimulants have had this calming effect for Diamond. “Sometimes it helps me fall asleep because it just kind of makes my mind stop racing for a second,” she says. College students popping an Addy to write papers have raised concerns about the use of drugs to treat ADHD – despite the overwhelming evidence that medication is the most effective treatment. It makes the process of obtaining it more difficult for those who truly need it. I received my diagnosis at home in Kentucky shortly before returning to school in September. To get my medicine, I had to receive a paper prescription and personally take it to a pharmacy in the area to get it filled. I couldn’t get it filled across state lines or have it sent to me across state lines. I had to schedule an appointment to see my doctor again in 30 days, and after that, every 90 days. At these visits, I have to take a drug test to ensure that the Adderall is in my system to prevent me from selling it. If it isn’t, then I can’t continue to receive a prescription. Adderall leaves the body very quickly, which means if I forget to take it the morning of my appointment or run out before my visit, I might not pass the test. Although medicine has benefits for many, it’s not a cure-all. According to Zecker, therapy that addresses issues with executive functions, such as time management skills and shifting from one activity to another, is another good tool. Executive functions are a set of mental skills involving self-control and self-regulation, especially in regards to achieving goals and completing tasks. As individuals grow older and better understand their disorder, they’re better able to manage these executive functions and figure out strategies for dealing with their symptoms. Schwartz’ behavioral interventions range from strategies to ensure patients don’t lose their keys to helping patients create detailed schedules for completing assignments. He emphasizes the importance of setting daily goals that patients know they can accomplish.

“I’ll tell them that we want to make sure you can go to bed feeling like you accomplished it, because a lot of people with ADHD will tell me they feel badly because they constantly can’t get the stuff done they planned,” Schwartz says. “I’ll say, ‘What is it that you know for sure you’d be able to get done today?’ and you have a guarantee in your head that you’ll be able to go to bed saying you accomplished it.” For Diamond, therapy and medicine have unique benefits. “Medication is great. It helps me in a lot of ways that therapy just can’t,” she says. “But therapy also helps me in a lot of ways that medication can’t. There’s emotional effects and other stuff like that, so just having someone to help me process emotions, or just to think through everything that I have to do and be able to take a breath and have somebody to help me process my thoughts is super helpful.” Therapy can also help with conditions that are often comorbid with ADHD, such as anxiety and depression. “If a person doesn’t have external hyperactivity, internal hyperactivity - I believe it manifests itself as anxiety. That same sense like ‘My brain is always working, I’m always in overdrive,’ can feel like anxiety,” Zecker says. “It’s just like having too many thoughts,” Diamond says, “and when you have more thoughts, it’s more likely that some of them are gonna be negative.”

In addition to medication and lifestyle changes, students with ADHD and other learning disabilities benefit from a variety of services provided by AccessibleNU. Eight percent of the undergraduate body at Northwestern is registered to receive these services. “Nothing really that we’re going to do is going to make it a level playing field, but this is our attempt to get close,” May says. Common services that students receive include extended time, distractionfree environments for exams and note-taking aids. AccessibleNU offers academic coaching too. May says AccessibleNU tries to build on strategies that students have already developed. “It’s trying to assist with adapting those at the university level, always with an eye on ‘How can you be

enjoying your time here too?’, or ‘How can you be happy?,’ not just an academic machine,” May says. But some academic challenges are more difficult to provide specific services for, such as difficulties with the learning environment or professor’s teaching style. “[The] teaching style doesn’t always work well with my processing speed,” Burgess says. “If they’re all over the place or not really good at writing things down on the board, then I’d have to do a lot more in my head to figure out what’s going on.” To address these issues, which are persistent in higher education, May advocates for universal design for learning and an educational model that aims to create a classroom environment that is accessible for everyone. “We’re working now more broadly with faculty to work on incorporating accommodations into their classes that would apply for all students, with the hope that it becomes a more equitable campus,” May says. “I feel like individuals are disabled by the academic environment.”

Despite the efforts to make Northwestern a more equitable campus from AccessibleNU and other advocates, accessibility services still have their own stigmas and misconceptions. “I think one thing I still hear,” May says, “is that the idea of registering with our office and using accommodations is so that you don’t need them later. And that’s a misnomer. These are lifelong conditions.” “I would say the stigma comes from people who are just coldhearted being jealous of you getting extra time,” Burgess says. “And I’m like, don’t be jealous, ‘cause I need that, and I can’t be on the same playing field as you.” Despite this reputation, AccessibleNU has played a key role in allowing Burgess to feel comfortable with her learning disability. “From day one I felt at home,” Burgess says. She often stops by the office just to say hi to the staff because she feels so comfortable there. “They don’t make you feel different, and your LD can make you feel different at times.” Ultimately, these experiences have given her the opportunity to

embrace her learning disability in spite of its difficulties. “Northwestern’s given me the space to come to terms with my LD and that part of my identity.” I agree with her sentiments – although I’ve only spent a short time here with my diagnosis, I’ve already begun to better understand this aspect of my identity. When I first heard comments questioning how I could be a successful Northwestern student if I struggled with ADHD, I didn’t have an answer. But now I know the answer: people with ADHD are not less intelligent than those without it. We are here at Northwestern, and we don’t have to justify how that happened. You may not see us – we likely won’t look like the stereotype of ADHD that you have in your head. ADHD manifests in many different ways, like fidgeting, impulsiveness, daydreaming, disorganization and a myriad of other symptoms. But we are not less driven or hardworking or talented. We have a unique set of struggles that our peers don’t have, and we’re still here. And we’re thriving.


Stepping up

to the plate Digging in with Cookology, Northwestern’s premier culinary club. WRITTEN AND PHOTOGRAPHED BY LETA DICKINSON and JULIA SONG



heil Catholic center probably isn’t high on your list of places to spend a Friday night. The main floor is empty and quiet; the only movement is the light flickering from the fireplace. The sounds of laughter and pungent odor of green onions rise up from an unlit staircase. The real party is underground. In the light of the basement kitchen, students gather around cooking stations, each outfitted with a cutting board, chef’s knife, induction heater and frying pan. It’s one of Cookology club’s weekly meetings. Today: a demo on preparing oyakodon, a Japanese dish of eggs, chicken and rice simmered in sweet and salty broth. At Cookology, Northwestern students with various levels of culinary experience can try their hand learning kitchen techniques from practiced executive board members and partake in cooking demos taught by professional chefs. “There is a decent group of people that have a natural interest in food, but either have a hesitance against learning how to cook or can’t find time,” says Huy Do,


Cookology’s co-president. The space, he says, “is meant to foster a passion for food, and also the technical skills to create food.” In 2014, a group of students founded Cookology with the hopes of sharing their love and knowledge of fine dining with other students. However, the expenses associated with high-end cuisine were unsustainable for the selffunded club. In the past two years and with a change in leadership, Cookology has altered its vision slightly. “We have to create a flexible model where anybody who’s taking over of the organization can re-conceptualize what the organization really means,” Do says, “as long as its core model and its core philosophy are being maintained.” For the current board, this means becoming an ASG-funded B-status organization, and scaling down the ingredients and techniques to make recipes more accessible to students. Beyond weekly events, Cookology also hosts a pop-up restaurant at the end of the quarter to present the techniques and recipes members have learned. In previous

years, the executive board members have been the only ones who cook for pop-up restaurants, but this year, all members will get a chance to participate. “What I really like about cooking is the moment people taste my food and their face changes.” says William Jeang, who led the oyakodon demonstration, “When I walk out from the kitchen during pop-up restaurant and everybody is looking at us, I know they had a very good meal.” Although the pop-up restaurant draws more attention, most of Cookology’s events see a small turnout. At the end of the lesson, the executive board and members sit down to enjoy their meal together. The night ends with a promotion for next week’s event and cleanup. Jeang, who frequently invites friends to come to events he leads, says: “It’s hard to get people to take time out of their busy lives to come to these events, but when they do, they usually are impressed.” And he knows how to appeal to a college audience. “You just have to say the magic words — free food!”


CHEESIE’S IN REVIEW Reviewing our favorite grilled cheese sandwiches, before and after getting hammered. LUCY DWYER

B LO O D M O N E Y What will you spend your mono study money on? We’ve got some ideas. KIRA FAHMY

F LOAT O N One writer tries a sensory deprivation tank to see if it’s worth the hype. DANIEL FERNANDEZ

TO U R G U I D E M Y T H B U S T E R S We went undercover to spy on a Northwestern Student Tour to sniff out the lies. MEG PISARCZYK

W H AT D O E S YO U R S P R I N G B R E A K S AY A B O U T YO U ? Tell us what you’re doing over break and we’ll tell you the first L you’ll take! MOLLY GLICK

CHEESE, PLEASE! When you’re drunk, there might not be anything better than a Cheesie’s sandwich. “It’s so good,” Lucy Dwyer says. “I can’t wait to throw this up later.” PHOTO BY LETA DICKINSON




Just try it – you'll like it.



Drunk: Very good. Sober: Made me throw up.



An absolute drunk classic.



A childhood favorite, but make it drunk.



Don’t order this. Just don’t do it.


Cheesie's in Review


Experiencing Cheesie’s both above and under the influence has the potential to yield very different results. WRITTEN AND DESIGNED BY LUCY DWYER

Disclaimer: Before writing this story, I’d only been to Cheesie’s completely sauced (usually post-debauchery at La Macc). I LOVE Cheesie’s – I’m convinced The Mac, the chicken tenders (don’t sleep on ‘em) and the cheese curds came directly from heaven. I’m getting hungry just writing about them. The thing is, when you're drunk, virtually any food tastes good. Do I normally like Rice Krispie treats? No, but I sure did enjoy eating an entire box

of them last weekend after four shots of vodka. It’s kind of like when you hook up with someone at the Deuce convinced they’re superrr hot only to look them up on Facebook the next morning and see a huge uggo staring back at you. Is Cheesie’s a secret uggo too? In the name of science, I set out to discover if Cheesie’s is only delicious under the influence or if the greasy goodness is truly an above-the-influence culinary masterpiece.

Sober I went to Cheesie’s on a Wednesday at 5:15 p.m. because ~pro tip~ sandwiches are 50 percent off on Wednesday if you buy a side and a drink. In what can only be classified as the deal of the century, my friend and I got three sandwiches, two drinks and two sides for $24. Baller moves only. We tried The Frenchie, The Tenderizer, El Jefe, seasoned fries and tots. I was pleasantly surprised to find that, besides the Frenchie (a tasteless, baked potato wannabe mess), everything was quite tasty. The Tenderizer was sweet and tangy.

The fries were crispy and addicting. And the El Jefe – WOW, just WOW. Imagine if a cheesy gordita crunch from Taco Bell impregnated a really good grilled cheese. There was ground beef, crunchy jalapenos, Fritos (texture=A+) and deliciously melty chihuahua cheese. To top it off, the whole sandwich was WRAPPED IN A CHEESE QUESADILLA. Boy can like, get it. Verdict: While eating $20 worth of Cheesie’s will put you in the worst of food comas, it’s (mostly) delicious sober. I know where I’m celebrating my birthday this year!


Drunk After throwing a housewarming party at my apartment in which a window was broken (thanks Steven!), the crew and I walked a block to Cheesie's, because, yup, I live that close. For a Friday at 2 a.m., it wasn’t super crowded. Shocker: Northwestern kids really are lame. Anyway, I ordered The Popper with the intent of also stealing bites of The Mac, chicken tenders and cheese curds my friends ordered (everyone’s more generous after a few beers). The food was as delicious as ever, in the way that everything is awesome when drunk. The girl

you just met in the bathroom? Prettiest girl you’ve ever seen. The song playing at the clerb? Favorite song of all time. This sandwich I’m eating at Cheesie's? I want it to be my last meal on Earth, damnit. I devour The Popper, which, fun fact, I order every time I’m drunk. Every time, I cry because it’s so spicy. Well - not tonight! I don’t know if I’m becoming less white or if God’s light was shining down on me, but I pull it together and bite into a jalapeño without shedding a single tear. Go me! Verdict: Cheesie’s is perfect. Don't @ me.


Blood Money Some things you can buy with your hard-earned $60 (if you haven’t already spent it on alcohol). WRITTEN BY KIRA FAHMY DESIGNED AND ILLUSTRATED BY SAVANNAH CHRISTENSEN

From a $1 Amazon gift card to $100 in hard cash, Northwestern research studies offer students quick ways to exploit their bodies for money. The most infamous and wide-reaching is “the mono study.” Formally known as IRB Study # STU49320, it aims to predict who will develop Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) after being diagnosed with mono. But the average student has no clue about the specifics of the study, what their results show, or whether the University sells their blood on the dark web. Frankly, nobody cares. Anyone can qualify – just be 18 years old and a freshman/sophomore – and complete a survey and consent to some graduate students toying with that precious, profitable “plasma” of yours. It feels almost too easy. Criminal, even. And getting paid for it? That’s blood money.

Normal 0.34 percent of one quarter of your Northwestern tuition

Seven and a half months of Netflix so you can stop using your freshman year roommate’s cousin’s account

60 percent of that textbook required by your professor – who just so happens to be the author 120 pieces of roti bread from Flat Top

12 cover charges at La Macc

Good Purchase

One of those cheerleader skirts everyone wears tailgating

One extremely basic T-Shirt from the Norris bookstore that looks like it was made on CustomInk

A really convincing (but fake) diploma for the major of your choice

Pay the sitting fee at Kafein

A lawyer to defend your forged diploma


We’ll judge you for it

A thong to put under said cheerleader skirt so even your ass screams “Go ‘Cats!”

Bad Purchase

Float On

Floating in dark, briny nothingness can bring inner peace – or at least one tolerable moment of quiet. WRITTEN BY DANIEL FERNANDEZ, DESIGNED BY AINE DOUGHERTY, and ILLUSTRATED BY EMMA SARAPPO


t the start of the 11th century, Ibn Sīnā, a renowned Islamic philosopher and medical practitioner, found himself in a pickle. Captured and imprisoned in the basement of a medieval castle with nothing but time on his hands, he decided, as philosophers do, to spend his final days writing a treatise arguing that humans are self-aware. He asked his reader to imagine a floating man, someone “blind and suspended,” unable to hear, smell or feel anything at all. It was in this void, he thought, that we could truly recognize our own essence; the unknown would become known. Almost 100 years later, Ibn Sīnā’s thought experiment is no longer fantasy. You can now simulate the experience of solitary confinement by dispossessing yourself of all sensation. Perhaps, in this sensory wasteland, you might just find your true self. Or, at least, that was the message that Shane Stott, the co-founder of Zen Float Co., offered in his book The Float Tank Cure: Free Yourself From Stress, Anxiety, and Pain the Natural Way. It was one of a few options to consider as I lounged on a black leather couch inside the Evanston Float Center (EFC), a brown building a few steps from the Dempster L stop. For the uninitiated, floating – also known as sensory deprivation therapy, isolation tank therapy or spending $60 to lie in a very, very salty tub – is a form of alternative medicine popularized by neuro-psychologist John C. Lilly in the 1950s. Although you can float in many ways, at EFC this happens in a float cabin: a large, aquamarine bathtub held inside a lightless, soundless space about the size of a closet.

Unlike a regular bath, a float tub has just 10 inches of water. Also unlike a regular bath, the water contains about 800 pounds of the finest San Francisco Epsom Salt. EFC’s owner, Jillian Trespeces, explained this all to me as I filled out an introductory questionnaire. After cheerfully signing away my rights in case of a nervous breakdown and accepting full liability for any damages, I returned to The Float Tank Cure for a few more minutes before Trespeces gave me the green light. Inside my room was a shower, a small wooden stool and a photograph of mist flowing over rocks – it looked like a motivational poster in search of a bad caption. The only features that made the space different from a Hilton hotel restroom was the lack of a toilet and the presence of a thick plastic hatch on the left side of the room (the portal to my float cabin). As instructed, I put on a pair of orange earplugs from an EFC branded container, undressed (you must float au naturel), took a brief shower and entered the float compartment. Once inside, I closed the door and settled into the water. Staring up into the nothingness, I did not immediately question my sanity. The abyss did not stare back into me. In true Northwestern spirit, I started my float by trying to compose a cover letter in my head (floating, according to every scientific study ever produced on the topic, is supposed to massively improve your creativity). But after about two minutes, I gave up and started reciting the lines to Young the Giant’s “Cough Syrup” in my head.

As I continued to stare into the impenetrable darkness, I grew increasingly uneasy. I must have made a mistake: What forces compelled me – a person who showers to music because I am uneasy with the prospect of being alone with my thoughts for five minutes – to place myself in a dark room with no stimuli for a full 60? At the same time, I had already closed the door and there was little I could do but try to enjoy it. Slowly, the nagging voice in my head ceased, and my mind began to drift. It dawned on me that there was a certain beauty in the stillness mandated by floating. In a small way, I understood why people were flocking to these futuristic space pods with their promise of mindful fulfillment. Later, when the sound of soft music signaled the end of my float, I emerged feeling a bit relieved, but mostly refreshed. I could feel the weight of life roll off my back, and after a longer, warmer shower, I put on my clothes and exited the room feeling upbeat. In what felt like an impossible miracle during a Chicago winter, I could even see the sun through EFC’s front window. I thanked Trespeces, paid for my session and sat back down on the black couch. It was here, staring at the self-help books, the advertisement for Colorado hemp honey and the essential oils display, that I began to feel my happiness recede. I still felt weightless, but I also felt empty. Surrounded by these commercial palliatives and expensive ways for coping with personal problems that had no single solution, I felt naive and stupid. Floating seemed too self-indulgent; the vacuum it provided felt vaguely inhuman. CNTD.


tour guide

FLOATING, CONT. If this all seems too vague, though, let’s try another thought experiment. Imagine a pond in the early spring. There’s no wind, and the water is still. No frogs hop about, no mosquitoes buzz above the water’s surface. You hear no sound except that of the improbable silence that surrounds you. Focus your attention on the absolutely motionless water and you’ll find that the pond’s tranquility inspires awe in the biblical sense of the word: it is both wonderful and dreadful. Confronting this pristine serenity, you feel a guilt well up inside you. You see, in this immaculate idyll, a peace that you know is unachievable, or at least something you could not survive for long. You realize that an hour of sensory deprivation is sublime–but subject a person to it for a day, let alone a month or a year, and you have one of the most brutal and inhumane forms of punishment ever devised. To experience nothingness for a fleeting moment may be wonderful, but it is untenable, a neverworld of sorts. On its surface, it is charming, but a surface is just that–a facade, an incomplete vision of life. Really, floating is a conceit, that if you stare at the empty pond long enough, you will eventually grow placid too. It is not a cure, for it belies the fact that we are doomed to choice, to rumination and to regret only if we are lucky.


marks the lie

WHAT THEY SAY: Seventy-seven percent of courses enroll fewer than 20 students. THE TRUTH: This blatantly is not true.

WHAT THEY SAY: Northwestern students love taking advantage of how close Evanston is to downtown Chicago via the L! THE TRUTH: Unlike UChicago kids, we don’t get free CTA passes. And it takes an hour to get into the city, so you better plan ahead.

WHAT THEY SAY: There are over 500 student organizations on campus. If you have an interest, there’s a club with people who are also passionate about it! THE TRUTH: The clubs exist, but you have to fill out an application and complete an interview to get into each of them. And you’ll probably be rejected by most of them.

Put on your prospie shoes and come with us on a tour of Northwestern. WRITTEN BY MEG PISARCZYK DESIGNED BY EMMA KUMER



WHAT THEY SAY: Northwestern meets 100 percent of students’ demonstrated financial need. THE TRUTH: Good one.

n February 2, 2018, I toured Northwestern for the second time. As I approached the Segal Visitor’s Center, I thought back to my first tour in 2014. Over the past year and-a-half, I’ve realized how quickly the University was able to thrill me about the idea of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars over four years, so I decided it was time to see how much this place tries to scam sweet, innocent prospies and their parents. When the tour guides introduced themselves, I panicked a little because I knew almost all of them – it’s not like anyone in the room was my best friend, but I’d definitely had classes with most people, and was worried about them noticing me and disrupting my mission. I eventually settled on the two theater majors giving a joint tour and introduced myself as my younger sister, Sarah. Nobody could possibly suspect me. We began with a jaunt to Norris, and along the way they both emphasized how great it is to have an unlimited meal plan during your first year. Neither said anything about the dining hall food, which probably means they are just as disappointed in it as I am. Everything they said about dorms “residential spaces” was accurate, but they never mentioned the huge differences that exist in the vibes of res halls on North Campus vs. South. TBH, it would have been helpful to know that I would make approximately three friends in Allison my freshman year as opposed to 30 if I’d chosen Elder or Bobb. In the middle of my tour, I realized how truly stupid it was to take a campus tour on a 15-degree day in Chicagoland. If someone you know says they want to visit NU in February, please tell them no. I found it particularly funny how my guides described Dillo Day as we walked past the Lakefill. One mom

in my group asked where the name originated (which the guides correctly answered), but nobody realized their kid would probably love Dillo so much mostly because of the gluttonous daydrinking. Morty might close the libraries so everyone can participate in tradition, but I don’t think any parent in my group realized that their kid might just show up to the headliner in a hospital gown after projectile vomiting onto a car on Sheridan Road. The tour also convinced me that half of Northwestern’s culture is created by perceptions prospies pick up during their visits and dream about fulfilling once they get their acceptance letters. It seems like everyone and their mother has two majors, a minor, five certificates and does undergrad research simply to capitalize on “the beauty of the quarter system.” This also applies to Dance Marathon. By the end of my tour, I realized that the only reason so many people sign up to dance their freshman year is that it’s the only club they know anything about before getting to campus. Above all, my tour was entertaining. Who knew that the area between Annenberg and new Kellogg was called “The Research Quad” and Kresge, Harris and University Hall join together to form “The Humanities Quad” around the Rock? I laughed to myself when anxious parents asked the same questions my mom and dad did a few years ago and was surprised that I walked away learning some new stuff: nobody had told me SIGP existed. I also had no clue that Tech is the second largest low-rise building in the country after the Pentagon. Would I still apply to Northwestern? Yes. Do I still feel like I have to do DM to have a genuine Northwestern experience? Hell no. I would rather take organic chem AND a math class than enter that tent again.


What Your Spring Break Says About You Cabo or Florida? How basic can you be? WHERE ARE YOU GOING?


Your second (or third) home Montréal

You love cheap tequila, dehydration and disappointing your parents. You want to feel the sand between your toes, and in every other crevice of your body for weeks after.

One home was not good enough for your fourperson family, so you bought a vacation home. You’re not rich. Your dad just worked hard! You’re enjoying the fruits of his toils. You deserve it.

You’re too cool for a beach vacation. You and your friends appreciate culture and don’t need a trashy beach. In other words, you’re here to drink legally. (It’s 18 in Quebec and 19 in the other provinces, BTW).


Any bargain tequila that gets the job done.

You’ll run out of quail eggs and caviar after being snowed in.

Your parents’ finely-aged red wine, perhaps some SingleMalt Scotch.

Retching your previouslyconsumed poutine all over the floor of the Airbnb.

Panama City, Florida

Your SO's hometown

You’re in a relationship. You advertise it on social media. You’re going to advertise this milestone in the relationship. You’re going to hate their pet. You’re going to wonder why you’re not in Panama City.

Running into your SO’s ex at the supermarket. Are you uglier than them? Did THEY go to a Dave Matthews concert too, or is that your special thing?

Trying to meet up with high school friends – they have a different break and you don’t even have their phone numbers anymore. Plus, opening Tinder and hooking up with a former bully.

WHAT WILL YOU LEARN? The U.S. law will not protect you outside of the U.S. You cannot negotiate yourself out of forgetting your passport.

Sunburn in all the wrong places.

The same mistakes from Cabo, except worse because you’re on home soil and tarnishing this great country. You’ll also probably end up on television... for the wrong reasons.

You think that school is so stressful and it’ll be nice to reunite with your family. Well... maybe you need your parents to buy you a meal or two.



You love disappointing your parents but don’t want to do it outside the U.S. Cheaper flights! You want to arrive at your inevitable mild alcohol poisoning even quicker, no passport necessary.

Your childhood home



It’s almost Spring Break season and you – an overworked and undersexed Northwestern student – are eager to traipse to an exciting locale. No matter your destination, your choice will reveal your interests, your egregious spending habits and/or your possible alcoholism.

LEGAL beer. So mature! So empowering! So similar-tasting to the Busch Light at a darty.

Shots of whipped-cream flavored vodka, in between chugs of Natural Light.

Fun cocktails that you made together because you’re so CREATIVE and IN LOVE.

An old bottle of vodka from high school that you found in your closet. Probably still safe.

Probably nothing. You’re too drunk on expensive alcohol and privilege to learn anything.

Airbnb’s do not allow parties, even in other countries. Your host will not appreciate what you left on their carpet.

Panama City is cold as hell in March but you can still purchase airbrushed “PCB” shirts, cover your athlete’s foot with flip flops and heckle drunk high schoolers.

Your SO had some questionable taste in partners and room decor. Their massive collection of decorative bells might be a real turn-off.

You’re so old that your hometown feels like a distant universe and you’re inevitably going to graduate and need a job and eventually die.



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